New place for girls’ home

2017-04-25 08:51
Some of the teen girls living at the Ons Plek centre in Mowbray during the after-school programme offered by the centre’s social workers.

Some of the teen girls living at the Ons Plek centre in Mowbray during the after-school programme offered by the centre’s social workers.

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Ons Plek, a home of hope for girls and a therapeutic centre for the broken-hearted, is growing bigger as it recently celebrated its move to new premises in Mowbray.

The centre was previously based in the city centre.

Its doors are open to every young girl from around Cape Town who needs help to deal with difficulties in her life.

Despite the challenge to get funding to maintain its services and create a more welcoming environment, Ons Plek has found a well-secured place.

It is currently taking care of 36 teen girls from all corners of Cape Town.

Through its programmes Ons Plek aims to keep girls off the streets and empower them to become better people in their communities.

It accommodates girls between the ages of 13 and 16 who have gone through difficulties in their lives, some of whom have even resorted to running away from their families to stay on the streets. Any teen girl, whether she wants to come herself or has been referred to by other stakeholders, is welcome at the centre.

The centre runs various programmes, both for girls who live at the centre and those who are struggling back at home and visit the centre for help. These include school programmes, life skills, community-based programmes and counselling. The centre’s main goals are not just to keep the girls off the streets but also to make sure they stay in school and perform well in class.

Girls who live at the centre usually stay there for a six months-long programme, during which her situation is monitored by the Ons Plek social workers.

If proven stable the girl then gets reunited with her family. However if the social workers find that she needs to stay longer, she becomes part of the long-term programme for a year or longer.

One 16-year-old participant says she has been at the centre for three months and her life has already changed for the better.

She says before she got to the centre her life was a mess, she was caught up with the wrong crowd and had no direction for her future. But Ons Plek has helped her realise her dream of becoming a social worker one day.

“I would like to become a social worker so that I can help children who find themselves in similar situations that I was in before I came here. This place has helped me find myself again,” she says.

Pam Jackson, a social worker and a director of the centre, says: “Through Ons Plek we reduced the number of street children from 100 girls heading to Cape Town streets every year to an average of four girls on the street at any one time. The causes remain the same, which are basically physical, emotional and sexual abuse, substance abuse, clubbing at an early age and mixing with the wrong crew.

“We have also been influential in getting parents to band together in an anti-gang action which was threatening the children of the area, as well as run awareness programmes on drugs and groups on domestic violence in the community.”

She says they have realised that it is important to intervene early to prevent children from landing up on the streets.

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