A helping hand for the homeless

2018-12-04 06:00
Helping with parking in the area.

Helping with parking in the area.

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The Simon’s Town Community Policing Forum (CPF) is hitting the right spot with its Street People Programme.

With three social workers in the area working with the homeless, the aim is to reintegrate the homeless and help them in every way possible so that they can get off the streets.

When the project started in December last year, about 17 street people were assisted back into jobs, homes and shelters. Since then they have continued to have regular successes in a slow but steady manner.

Eileen Heywood, chairperson of the Simon’s Town CPF, says a lot of street people need assistance. “We have all hit rock bottom at some point and some people need help to get back up. We have social workers in the area and they deal with street people on a daily basis to see how they can help them. Some need to be reunited with their families; need help to get jobs; others want help to be placed in shelters; others need to detoxify because of substance abuse, so we help a lot with that. We are glad that with working with the social workers we have seen a huge improvement with the street people, even with their behaviour.”

Heywood adds that the “Pink Vest Project” has really brought back a sense of pride in the homeless. “Working together with the police they had to do a lot of workshops and training so that they can be car marshals. This helped them a lot and reduced the aggressive begging as each had their own bay and they got a little pay for what they were doing. We continue to work with them and we can gladly say it is no longer scary to meet a homeless person as they are trying their best to reintegrate with the society.”

Working with the ward councillor, Simon Liell-Cock, they receive a part of the ward allocation to help with their intervention programmes­.

For both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 budget years, which run from July to June, Liell-Cock allocated R150 000 per year, amounting to R300 000.

“The funds are used to employ fieldworkers and auxiliary Social Development workers to be on the streets of Simon’s Town Monday to Friday. Their job is to interview and assess each person living on the streets to determine what is needed to reintegrate them back to their families/employment/shelter. They run weekly programmes and collaborate with shelters, Social Development agencies and NGOs across the city. I have budgeted another R100 000 for 2019/20,” he says.

“Prior to deploying the fieldworkers, we had plenty of opinions but no factual information on the street people situation in Simon’s Town – we didn’t know how many there were, why they were there or what to do about it. As a result, most interventions were hand-outs and not a hand-up and exacerbated the situation by attracting street people to the town. As a result, the town was getting dirtier and crime was up with criminal elements hiding in plain sight as street people,” says Liell-Cock.

With all the interventions now they have an idea of how many people are on the streets and how they can be helped. Heywood has encouraged residents to give responsibly. “We urge residents or visitors to the area not to give directly to the street people. Please give responsibly. Work with local organisations that work with the homeless. By giving directly to them you’re just making the situation worse and it will be difficult to take them off the streets.

I appeal to the community to get involved – give your time, your money and your love, but do it responsibly through Social Development agencies, through supporting Happy Valley and through recognised NGOs who have proven track records such as U-Turn or Straatwerk,” she says.

They have no doubt that the programme has brought about a significant change.

“Those left on the streets are what is termed ‘chronic’ cases – they are addicted to drugs or alcohol and have no desire to move off the streets and no need to because they are supported by well-meaning but misguided organisations and individuals,” she says.

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