Street people aim to keep safety in the pink

2020-02-04 06:00
Pink Vest members work to keep Simon’s Town safe. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

Pink Vest members work to keep Simon’s Town safe. PHOTO: Racine Edwardes

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About three years since they were launched, two projects to assist street people are still working in partnership to make Simon’s Town a better place for visitors.

“I had been trying to find out what I could do about the street people, and it turns out all you can do is put field workers on the ground – so that’s what I’ve done.

“I managed to get money when the ward allocation budget was extended and I’ve got field officers on the ground, every day,” says Simon Liell-Cock, councillor for ward 61.

These field workers identify, interview, assess and build a relationship with the street people to help reintegrate them into society.

However, the field workers’ research has found that street people are not necessarily homeless. Some are on the street of their own free will, says Liell-Cock.

“When we first started, in the first two months, we got 15% of them off the streets. The rest of them take time or they stay on the street. Once they have been on the street too long, they become used to it.”

The Pink Vest project, launched by the Simon’s Town Community Policing Forum (CPF), makes use of Liell-Cock’s research findings to better attain its goal: to train and employ street people as parking attendants.

So doing, not only is the job formalised, but it is a tool to manage street people and to reduce the incidents of beggars and vagrants harassing beachgoers for money.

The success of the project is evident in the positive attitudes of the pink vest members.

At a meeting at Simon’s Town Public Library on Tuesday 28 January, they agreed the work they did was of benefit to the community.

“I’m very happy to do this,” says George. “We look after the community and the community gives something back to us. They give us food, they tip us, they give us clothes and blankets. They really do look after us and we are really very happy with them.”

At the weekly meeting, the pink vest members check-off their attendance on the roster and raise any safety and security issues.

Last week, they reported a scam on the beach where people were issuing fake parking tickets to motorists, on beaches with free parking, and charging them upwards of R10 to use the bays.

They then reported these crimes to the police and law enforcement to deal with.

With the pink vests acting as eyes and ears, Simon’s Town is becoming a safer place for visitors.

“We occupy the space by giving them the pink bibs and training them and giving them a code of conduct, giving them an umbrella and teaching them to become customer-orientated.

“We’re occupying the space with people we know. And getting law enforcement to support them,” says Liell-Cock.

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