Helping people living on the streets

2015-07-01 06:05
PHOTO: kailene pially

Children sleep on the streets of Raisethorpe.

PHOTO: kailene pially Children sleep on the streets of Raisethorpe.

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A PLAN of action has been put in place by stakeholders to deal with people living on the streets of Pietermaritzburg.

Some stakeholders, including Debbie­ Harrison from Businesses Fighting Crime (BFC), director for Youth For Christ (YFC), Sally Mann and Simphiwe Sithole, YFC outreach co-ordinator, got together to detail plans to help those in need.

Harrison, project manager for BFC and representative of the project Living­ on the Streets (Lots), said that they have joined forces with Project Gateway and YFC to address the various age groups of people on the city streets.

“Last year, BFC decided that they wanted to do something to help the people living on the streets therefore we engaged various NGOs who had the necessary skills and research we needed to help get our projects going,” said Harrison.

Project Gateway has come on board to deal with the “traditional” street person - meaning those who are entrenched in the street culture and not willing to move out.

“These people are usually the older ones who might have a petty theft record or even mental illnesses,” said Harrison.

Project Gateway’s Sunset Shelter, which consists of three containers, will be used to house people aged 40 and over once the containers have been repaired and approved by the municipality.

Street children under the age of 18 are cared for by YFC which has an outreach programme to help it rehabilitate their lives.

It conducts prevention work in the communities in Swapo, Site 11 and Masukwana informal settlements.

The shelters that YFC runs offer children a shower, a place to wash their clothes and have a meal. There are also chances of reuniting them with their families.

Harrison said they would like to buy a container to be placed in the Northdale area for the children living on the streets.

While Project Gateway and YFC deal with the old and the young, a gap has been identified regarding men between the ages of 18 and 40.

“This is probably the most difficult group to work with as many of them are involved in drugs, crime and are belligerent,” she said.

Harrison added they are not a united group.

“For them it is survival of the fittest. It’s very hard to reintegrate people once they have been on the streets for such a long time, but we are not without hope.

“We know we won’t have a 100% success rate, but we are sure we will help a number of these people find a better life.”

Msunduzi Municipality has donated 40 and 42 Havelock Road to BFC for the Lots project. The idea is to renovate both houses to cater for the needs of the men in this age group and to rehabilitate­ them from their street ways.

Renovations and repairs have been planned and will get under way as soon as funding is available.

“We want to thank the municipality for its assistance to date as well as other NGOs that have, and will be, working with us during this pilot project. The project has potential,” said Harrison.

Speaking about the women between the age group 18 to 40, Harrison said that they were an “unknown group”.

“This group often involves many of the commercial sex workers in the city. We are in the process of getting the correct role players to help us deal with their issues together,” she said.

Sithole said that since the house, known as the “pink house”, was destroyed recently the women who used to live there are now living on the streets in the CBD - specifically Hessom­ Street.

“These people have nowhere to go. The people living on the streets ask us where they can go as they want to leave, and it has potential to work, we just don’t have the resources,” he said.

For more information about the projects, to make donations and get involved in helping Lots, contact the YFC offices at 033 345 2970 or Harrison at 082 445 3599

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