Seasons greetings for street people

2015-11-10 06:00

The City council is in discussions with various partners and stakeholders in the city centre to consider and improve on a seasonal project to help homeless people.

Last year, a project was run for the first time by the City of Cape Town and the Central City Improvement District (CCID) to provide services to street people over the festive season.

Fieldworkers from both the City and the CCID were deployed to four hotspots to engage with the people begging and living on the street, explains Suzette Little, mayoral Committee member for social development and early childhood development.

“The aim of the project was to gather information and conduct a report as well as build a relationship of trust with the street people in order to encourage them to voluntarily seek social help,” she says.

The project came about after the CCID had identified three of the most prolific spots for aggressive begging in the city centre. The City was approached to find out whether they could use a few of their extra, newly appointed fieldworkers to talk with people in these areas, explains CCID communications manager Carola Koblitz.

Another hotspot was identified by the City and added to the project.

Meaningful help

CCID social development manager Pat Eddy says constant direct interaction with homeless people within a specific area allows a fieldworker the opportunity to build a relationship – which is important if the fieldworker is to have any meaningful impact on the rehabilitation of a homeless person.

After assessing the circumstances of the person, the fieldworker is able to refer to the appropriate social service support, she says.

While it is difficult to measure the success of the project, the feedback from businesses in the area and the CCID was positive, says Little.

“We found fewer people begging as the street people saw the fieldworkers being actively involved in their areas, which changed the misconceptions,” she says.

“There is a great need for a project of this nature, especially during the festive season. We find that during this period many people migrate to the streets with the hope of seeking a living and begging on the streets.”

The project for the upcoming season is still under discussion, and its scope will depend on the stakeholders that partner with the City.

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