The St Jeanne Antide Foundation (SJAF) is a registered social purpose non-profit organisation. It is the social care services arm of the Sisters of Charity of St Jeanne Antide Thouret. Its overarching aim is to provide professional support services to very vulnerable individuals and families who are suffering due to very difficult life circumstances and those who are sliding into poverty and are socially excluded. SJAF is administered by a Governing Board with a Chief Executive Officer and is registered as an NGO with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations (VO/0005) and as a Foundation with the Registry for Legal Persons (LPF-101).
Workers at the Foundation work in partnership systematically in teams for the support and self-empowerment of socially excluded persons, families and minority groups. The mission of the Foundation is to be present for individuals and families who need someone who can listen to them with compassion, link or guide them to appropriate existing support services, support them in the restoration of their dignity, and guide them towards self-reliance, resilience and fulfillment of their potential. Looking holistically at persons in need, the Foundation’s mission is to give all round support to such persons.
A Governing Board is responsible for strategic planning, policy development and financial oversight. Board members come from such diverse backgrounds as social work and nursing, education, financial management, social welfare service planning and management, medicine and overseas development work. The CEO is a non-voting member of the Governing Board that meets monthly.
The Foundation works in partnership with community-based organisations as well as State agencies and NGOs that are national in scope. Since 2007, it has carried out street outreach work as a means of identifying and extending support to hard-to-reach vulnerable families, assisting them as close as possible to where they live.
Since its establishment, the Foundation has set up a number of core services. Operating from two community-based service sites, SJAF has naturally evolved into an organisation that is at the service of neighbouring communities. Its scope is local, national and international.
Fields of work
- Family support work : Family crisis and difficulties; financial problems and poverty; unemployment and under-employment; emotional distress; inherited culture of dependency on welfare benefits and opting for undeclared work; inadequate housing and eviction; loneliness; illiteracy.
- Mental Health : Support to family caregivers of mentally ill persons – family consultancies; support groups; social work; advocacy; tackling emotional distress; self-help literature in Maltese.
- Domestic Violence : Survivors of domestic violence supporting other survivors; range of non-formal, group-based, educational and self-expressive arts opportunities; advocacy; risk assessment; peer mentoring; creating a national hub for survivor support initiatives; literature; research and publications.
- Education : Non-formal educational opportunities for vulnerable families – courses, learning support club for children, workshops on emotional freedom, self-esteem groups.
Personnel of the Foundation maintain a friendly, humour-filled atmosphere in relating to each other – this is detected and appreciated by visitors and service users. The personal values, compassion and respect for others of the main workers, including volunteers, and the policies of the Foundation, have created an environment and an approach to vulnerable service users that has resulted in a certain ethos, culture and atmosphere.
Service users frequently comment on the attentive listening, acceptance, peacefulness and love they find in the SJAF premises, and on the humane and personal approach in the different fields of practice. The economic, psychological, emotional and social freedom and self-acceptance found by distressed or vulnerable people through the work of the Foundation recovers human dignity. Not only do the staff love the service users but the latter also come to discover their own capacity to love. Spontaneously or through SJAF encouragement, some service users even offer their voluntary service to help others. These are signs of the healing power of the divine at work through loving-kindness and compassion.