The government confirmed that it had taken responsibility for 20 teenage girls from challenging and underprivileged families following the abrupt closure of the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja residential home in Santa Venera.
Replying to questions by Nationalist Party spokesman Ivan Bartolo, the Minister for Social Policy, Michael Falzon, confirmed The Shift’s reports that the 120-year-old Conservatorio had closed.
He said that the decision to end the collaboration was taken by the board of trustees of the NGO Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja, which had been working with the government to provide services for the centre.
While the minister did not elaborate on what was behind the trustees’ decision, he said that the girls under the care of the Conservatorio were transferred to three separate residences under the auspices of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services.
He did not say which residences are now hosting these youths. Additionally, no details were given on the 36 staff members employed by the NGO.
Last November, The Shift revealed the swift closure of the residence, opened in 1880 by Vincenzo Bugeja, a businessman and philanthropist.
The programs at the Conservatorio were fully financed by the government at a cost of €800,000 a year through a public social partnership with the NGO.
When contacted, a spokesman for the Conservatorio played down the news, stating that it was only a management decision related to restructuring.
Sources had told The Shift that the decision was a result of continued mismanagement at the Conservatorio’s two publicly financed programmes, known as the Fejda and Jean Antide residences, which had resulted in increased violence and several escapes.
Police sources also confirmed that they were constantly called to the residences due to disturbances.
The Conservatorio’s website is currently “undergoing maintenance” according to its welcome page.
No plans have been given yet by the NGO’s Board of Trustees on the Conservatorio’s future.
The Conservatorio was situated on a large historic property in Santa Venera, built originally as an orphanage by Vincenzo Bugeja.