Over the past 15 years Ons Plek in Woodstock and Mowbray has been able to prevent 150 girls who were being forced by circumstance to run away from home from ending up on the streets. As a protective place that teaches self-responsibility, it is essential that Ons Plek remains open, but it needs the support of businesses and other institutions to do so.This is how Pam Jackson, director of Ons Plek, describes the situation they are currently in.“We really appreciate the many who help us with material donations of food, school desks, and so on. But with the best equipment in the world we can do nothing without full-time trained professional staff and for this we need to be trusted with financial donations both big and small. We use everything we are given with care,” she says.The overall goal of Ons Plek is to enable children to gain the skills they need to live as functioning members of society. “The programmes we provide include physical care, psychological care, reunification with families, skills development, educational skills and social skills. Every activity we offer has a goal and purpose in the children’s lives,” says Jackson.A healthy self-image and feeling of belonging and mastery are crucial to the girls’ willingness to engage in problem solving with their families and their communities. A range of skills training and development programmes are provided while the community reintegration and family reunification process proceeds.“On a daily basis the girls do individual cleaning duties, make their beds, wash school uniforms, and prepare breakfast, lunch and supper. They prepare a weekly shopping list and shop together with the childcare worker. Skills learnt include nutrition, hygiene and budgeting. These chores teach the children to take pride in their personal appearance and to become self-reliant and independent. The benefits in terms of community reintegration and reunification include feelings of belonging, mastery and responsibility, and duties keep expectations of family life realistic,” Jackson says.The demands of parents and society in terms of hygiene, and so on, are reinforced by Ons Plek through social skills learnt during house meetings, church and mosque attendance, dance group, groups on relationships and friendships, and sexual and body care. The girls attend the local Methodist Church on Sundays and participate in the church youth programme where they socialise with the community and experience a sense of inclusion and acceptance. Mosque and Madrassah attendance is also an option.Girls attend formal and informal schools, having been prepared for this by attending the Bridging School of Ons Plek.A holiday programme prepares girls for life in their homes and communities and older girls are helped with job preparation. The skills learnt are beneficial in that they equip the girls with life skills and values such as responsibility, respect and budgeting.