Speechcraft course gives homeless a voice

2020-02-11 06:00
Many street people form part of the Toastmasters Two Oceans speechcraft workshop to improve their lives through communication.

Many street people form part of the Toastmasters Two Oceans speechcraft workshop to improve their lives through communication. (Racine Edwardes)

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Toastmasters Two Oceans has jumped on board a City of Cape Town and the provincial department of social development initiative to assist homeless and street people by equipping them with skills.

Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organisation with clubs across South Africa and the globe, teaches public speaking and leadership skills to those interested in self-improvement. 

The six-week course is taking place at Simon’s Town Library hall. “It’s part of a bigger project that the City has embarked on. So they (street people) are learning different skills all the time through the City’s programme. 

“This particular module, the speechcraft course, works on giving them extra tools in terms of communicating with the public,” explains Toastmasters member and principal at Water’s Edge pre-school, Cheryll Wright.

“Every interaction between themselves (street people) and whoever they approach, they need to be able to speak and articulate themselves in a meaningful way. 

“It’s basic introduction skills; being able to structure a speech, being able to put a point across concisely, how to use their body in communication. It gives them, a sense of confidence and a sense of self- respect.”

Wright says the course will also help to create jobs for street people. 

A core group of 20 people have been attending the course every Tuesday since it began on 21 January. 

The course is usually offered to corporates for a fee but the street people attend the workshop for free.

Not only do the participants get taught how to speak, but they also learn how to evaluate a speech, thereby learning what is important.

By the end of the course, they will have completed at least two speeches, one impromptu speech and an evaluation. In order to receive a certificate, course goers have to attend 80% of the lessons. While this certificate can carry merit with organisations willing to employ them, 80% attendance can be difficult to achieve.

“If they do not meet these criteria, they will still get a certificate of participation – something to show that they’ve attended the course or part of it. Being homeless people, there are various reasons they may not make it every week. Some of them get a small opportunity to earn money and that is bread and butter to them, so they may need to miss a Tuesday.”

She says initiatives like these are the way Toastmasters reaches into the community and so many people find success in their personal lives because of it.

  • Visit http://www.twooceanstoastmasters.co.za/ for more information

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