Programme takes the homeless off the streets

2015-10-14 06:00

Number 42 Havelock Road (pictured) is now occupied by about 26 youth as part of the ‘Living on the Streets’ project.

PHOTO:sourced Number 42 Havelock Road (pictured) is now occupied by about 26 youth as part of the ‘Living on the Streets’ project.

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THE Businesses Fighting Crime (BFC) project, “Living on the Streets” (LOTS) has taken the first step towards clearing the city of the homeless people on the streets.

Earlier this year Msunduzi Municipality allocated two houses to the LOTS project, which has been housing people living on the streets.

Unfortunately, one house has been sold by the municipality but this has not discouraged the programme as the other house is operational and occupied by some of the homeless in Pietermaritzburg.

Number 42 Havelock Road is now occupied by about 26 youths, including three girls, but according to Debbie Harrison of BFC, there is a lot of work that needs to be done with these people to get them to break their street habits.

Currently, Youth for Christ (YFC) provides them with breakfast and lunch on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the YMCA on Tuesday and Thursday.

“Although this arrangement is only temporary, we are grateful for their help. The YFC Outreach co-ordinator has been to the house to speak to the youth and help us settle them in. The YMCA staff have been helpful and encouraging,” she said.

However, Harrison said that dinner is the problem and that providing a cooked meal at the shelter in the evenings is critical in encouraging the youth to return to the shelter each evening and to begin to see it as “home”.

She said there is much that needs to be done in terms of rehabilitating the youth and getting the house into a condition that is holistically suitable for residence.

“Disaster management donated 20 mattresses and 40 blankets to the project. The electricity department switched on the mains and repaired a dangerous plug at the home, safety and security provided an evening guard and maintenance fixed a few windows and other items.

“Health made a number of temporary concessions and the estates, the mayor’s office staff and special programmes have been instrumental in getting this project off the ground.

“[This is] a very encouraging level of co-operation and activity,” said Harrison.

Asmalls donated curtain rods and curtains, towels and face cloths.

A male social worker was due to arrive at the house to work with the youth last week and is to work as a volunteer until such time that funds become available to pay him. A sponsor has been contacted in this regard.

“The problems are huge, although not insurmountable. In the meantime, we need lots of help,” said Harrison.

She said the house does not have cooking facilities which makes feeding the youth a problem as food has to be prepared elsewhere and transported to the shelter.

“The shelter needs a stove, pots and pans, cutlery and crockery, a kettle, a chest freezer and a fairly large fridge. If we can accumulate the basics we can get them feeding themselves at the house,” she said.

In the interim, donated food is being stored at YFC to be used for their two daily meals.

Currently the house is able to accommodate 15 beds and Harrison is collecting bedding. There is a space for a sitting room which will be big enough to fit three normal-sized couches and a coffee table.

“Once other funding becomes available we will start buying proper bedding, but for now we are doing what we can to make the house as liveable as possible for them.

“We need to move with this over the next two weeks otherwise we will lose the advantage and the good will of the youth,” said Harrison.

LOTS members ask the public to contribute in any way they can, whether financially or by donating some of their old or unused, not broken, items to the programme.

“We are also appealing to the public to donate funds to Business Fighting Crime, FNB current account, Boom Street, branch number 221325, account number 62077527144. This account is controlled by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business

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