Gearing up to help the homeless

A total of 16 organisations from around Cape Town received a boost, in preparation of the winter season, at Athlone Stadium last Tuesday. 

The City of Cape Town launched its annual Winter Readiness Programme, that runs from May to September, with a budget of R700 000.

It supports non-profit organisations that work with street people, providing different services from offering shelter and counselling to feeding and skills development initiatives.

Benefitting organisations had to apply and prove their compliance with the City’s regulations, and a thorough evaluation was performed. 

These include: Somerset West Night Shelter, Happy Valley Home in Simon’s Town, Tygerberg Association for Street People, Ubuntu Circle of Courage in Delft, Oasis Reach for a Dream in Philippi, Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River, Haven Bellville, Haven Claremont, Haven District 6, Haven Kalk Bay, Haven Kraaifontein, Haven Kensington, Haven Moira Henderson in Woodstock, Haven Napier Street in Green Point, Haven Retreat and Haven Wynberg.

The boost includes temporary mattresses, bedding, groceries and toiletries.

The programme aims to reduce the number of homeless people living on the street during the cold season.

According to Ncumisa Mahangu of the City, they believe through extending their hand to help the vulnerable they hope to reduce incidents, especially fire-related, that are a result of the homeless people trying to keep warm.

She said if there are enough resourced facilities to accommodate up to a maximum capacity of these people, the City could have positive outcomes at the end of the season. 

She encouraged the public to give wisely and donate towards the organisations instead of giving directly to the homeless. 

Mahangu said though the City does its best to curb homelessness it cannot achieve desired results on its own and needs these organisations to reach a wider number of people. 

She was referring to the City’s overnight facility under the Culemborg Bridge, in town, which offers a space to 211 homeless people. For this season, the City has secured extra blankets and waterproof sleeping bags.

Mahangu said Culemborg serves the city and its surrounding.

“The Central Business District (CBD) has the highest number of street people as they tend to believe being closer to the busy area and amnesties would make their lives easier. 

“We are aware the issue is prominent in other areas such as Claremont, Wynberg, Somerset West, Bellville and many other places.”

Zahid Badroodien, the Mayco member for community services and health, added that the homelessness is a worldwide phenomenon and City’s Street People Reintegration Unit focusses on social outreach with the key aim of reducing the number of people on the street.

“A memorandum of agreement was signed between the City and the respective organisations to ensure that all parties comply with their roles and responsibilities. In this way we assist those organisations that make winter a little more bearable for street people,” said Badroodien.

He also encouraged residents not to give hand-outs directly to people living on the street which may encourage the refusal of social services.Chief executive officer of Haven Night Welfare Organisation Hassan Khan said the contribution by the City will help beneficiaries to be able to stretch their budgets and effectively handle the extensive numbers of people coming to their doorstep.

Clifford Martinus, founder of the Oasis Place in Philippi, warned all the organisations that there are rules that they should abide by for the duration of their involvement.

He also advised that street people should not only look at the short term goal as “most of the shelters are not only focusing on providing beds, but we want to help them find and regain their lives again and by the time they leave, they are able to sustain themselves.”

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