British PM urged to learn from Church of Scotland project helping migrants in Malta

St Andrew's Scots Church in Malta

St Andrew's Scots Church in Malta

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to learn from a Church of Scotland project in Malta which provides interest free loans to migrants and asylum seekers.

David Lloyd, a retired chartered accountant with the Out of Africa Project in Malta, criticised the Prime Minister’s use of the word “swarm” to describe migrants and said instead the UK could look at innovative ways of helping migrants get on their feet financially, The Scotsman newspaper reported.

He explained that the church ran a “bank” – now worth over £100,000 – funded by donations from the Church of Scotland Guild. This, he said, was an example of “people power” helping migrants become financially independent and was breaking down hostility from locals and politicians.

The newspaper said many of the migrants who have settled in Malta have been helped by the Malta Microfinance bank offering interest-free loans for rent, skills training, setting up businesses and schooling.

“There is still hostility and racism here from some people but by taking direct action we’ve let ordinary people in Malta see that migrants are real people just like them.”

The newspaper noted that he project was praised by former Maltese president George Abela as “ground- breaking and pioneering.”

Doug McRoberts, a former BBC Scotland news broadcaster, who set up the project, jointly run with the Methodist Church when he was the minister at St Andrew’s Scots Church in Valletta, said: “I don’t particularly want to get into a fight with David Cameron but I’m happy that thousands of people in Scotland and across the whole of the UK have raised money to help the migrants.

“This is people leading government, who are saying as individuals ‘this is what we want’. It’s ordinary people leading the way. Governments should be a function which assists society towards being itself.

“If the UK government would listen to what the Kirk is doing in Malta it would have a more rational and humanitarian approach.”

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