Social issues always close to heart

Claudette Abela Baldacchino, PL candidate for the upcoming European elections, discusses the key issues that have consistently come up in his conversations with the electorate.

It is inherent in me to focus on the social aspect of life in general, of the people who rightly expect that their own personal and community needs, and those of the country we proudly belong to, are addressed. For these reasons, most of my door-to-door campaigning and family visits have been spent meeting people from all social strata and from all backgrounds of society, to discuss their concerns, hopes, and aspirations. I have marvelled at the people’s readiness to discuss and to come up with proposals, further instilling in me the passion to be of help and service, a courier of their ideals within the corridors of power.

Photo: Matthias Zomer

Under different Labour administrations, the past decade has seen Malta and the Maltese achieving an incredible social and economic upturn. At a time when the world – and Europe in particular – has been going through social and economic turmoil as a result of ideological austerity, the Covid pandemic, and two major wars still raging, Maltese families have been fortunate in being able to enjoy a protection system that offers ongoing support and assistance to those who need them. However, there will always be different needs and circumstances that must be addressed as new realities crop up in our daily lives.

It is a matter of joy and satisfaction to meet so many people, so many families, from the youngest to the oldest, who have seen personal success, growth, and justified ambition, as well as students who confidently look ahead to new careers and opportunities. In their twilight years, pensioners deservedly enjoy an affluence they have never experienced before, and this after the 25 years of oblivion previous Nationalist Party administrations had offered them. Regular and unprecedented increases in pensions have become the hallmark of the Robert Abela administration.

This sense of wellbeing does not, however, deviate them – or us – from the realities and constant awareness of the new challenges in life despite the progress and the socio-economic growth that goes with it. Most people still seek a serene life, bereft of undue pressures, being able to spend precious quality time with family and avail themselves of more open spaces, to enjoy the environment, to feel safe from unbridled development around them, including better coordinated roadworks.

It is a revelation, but also an inspiration, to talk to dedicated parents whose children face the challenges from ADHD, autism, and other hidden disabilities, mental health, nutrition and domestic violence. These are challenges that have been addressed and will continue to be addressed as services and assistance schemes are taken to a new level.

I have encountered other issues, among them the stigma that former prison inmates sadly have to face when it comes to finding a job and, with it, public rehabilitation. It is a relief to know measures have just been announced to help these persons and to mitigate this social dilemma.

Most working families are fully aware of their better financial situation, zero unemployment rate, and the rewards of economic growth, but they also seek ways to lead a diverse and healthy life. This includes going to the gym, spending time in village and town open spaces, and enjoying the fruit of a thriving, cosmopolitan society that welcomes skilled foreign workers where local consumption is not enough to meet market demand. New collective agreements should reflect such desires.

I have confirmed, day after day, that Maltese and Gozitans alike treasure the ideals of national unity and family harmony, aligned with their desire for peace. It is why they also appeal for funds to be used on more social projects and positive investments as opposed to blatantly propping up the European war machine.

These and several other issues will form part of my daily agenda inside the European Parliament should I be entrusted with the honour of representing my country again in Europe. I did so when, as an MEP, I had the opportunity to identify these hopes and aspirations of our people by bringing them up at all types of meetings and fora I attended. It will be the same this time around, for social issues affecting people’s lives within our society have always been close to heart.

People’s voices need to be heard, are being heard, and will always be heard. This is what distiguishes us, as socialists, from the rest of the political platform.

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