Safe Space making a mark

2018-10-30 06:01

In only three months of operation, the City of Cape Town’s Culemborg Safe Space for street people has already seen 268 clients move through its gates.

The Safe Space, which opened in July, was set up as a transitional space for street people who want to move off the streets. Of those assisted, 210 were male and 58 female. The average age of men using the Safe Space was 52, and that of women 41.

The overwhelming majority of clients were living on the streets in the Cape Town’s central business district, says Mayco member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith.

“This is not surprising, because of the location of the Safe Space. It is our intention to open similar facilities in other parts of the metropole, which will be easily accessible in areas that people are familiar with. However, much of our plans are budget dependent and the City will possibly also consider partnerships with the private sector to establish more safe spaces,” he says.

Of the clients who have accessed the Safe Space, 48 have secured part-time employment through links to organisations such as Jesus Saves and Straatwerk, Smith adds.

Eight clients have been relocated to their areas of origin outside Cape Town and six have been reunited with their families. Two seniors have been placed in frail care facilities and two have been placed in alternative shelters closer to families and work opportunities­.

A further 200 EPWP opportunities will be available over the festive season, Smith adds.

“There have been approximately 50 people who left the Safe Space. It’s disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. There are some rules at the Space around substance use and clients have to commit to some form of development geared towards reintegration. Not everyone is ready for that step and we respect that.

“I am, however, very pleased with those who have stayed the course and taken the opportunities that have been available to them. The City and its many partners will continue working hard to help these clients realise their goals. It is worth reminding the public that there are many very complicated reasons why people end up on the street, and successful reintegration hinges on addressing those reasons, so it is not an overnight process,” adds Smith.

Clients who utilise the Safe Space are pre-screened and referred by the Street People Unit, which was established to give effect to the City’s Street People Programme. The reintegration teams conduct public outreach to street people on a daily basis across the metropole and also conduct community awareness projects focused on “Giving Responsibly­”.

Field officers are responsible for outreach work in their demarcated areas and for responding to complaints. This entails screening, data collection and offering social assistance to the street person.

Reintegration officers are responsible for case management of clients willing to accept assistance. Once a client has accepted the social assistance, they are relocated to a shelter temporarily whilst the reintegration officer establishes whether the client can be reunified with his/her family and identifies additional needs of the client in respect of other services, e.g. health services, mental health services and substance abuse interventions­.

The teams also join Law Enforcement for joint operations across the city at street people hotspots in order to offer social services during these operations.

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