Providing a stepping-stone for homeless people to be reintegrated into society and reuniting them with family are just two of the several services The Hope Exchange has been offering for almost 40 years.
The non-governmental organisation (NGO), formerly known as The Carpenter’s Shop, is based in Roeland Street in the City Bowl and serves homeless people in neighbouring communities including Woodstock and Salt River. It will celebrate 40 years in existence this year.
Peter Solomon, director at The Hope Exchange, says they strive to create contact points with homeless individuals and to support their individual social needs.
He says they provide homeless people on the Cape Flats with day-to-day basic needs like washing facilities, clothing, medical support, and ID services.
Solomon says: “We want to give our clients the support they need to find employment and become self-sustainable once again as many of them were forced to the streets by various circumstances.”
He explains that homeless people often do not have proper ablution facilities.
As a result, they offer them health and hygiene facilities. Solomon says at 07:30 on weekdays their doors are open for their clients to make use of the ablution facilities.
He says they keep a record of each client that comes through their doors. Solomon adds that they also have access to a laundry service every weekday between 07:00 and 09:00.
“Once they arrive here, they have access to our social workers. We have weekly church services and they also receive a token for a fully cooked meal.”
According to Solomon, they provide medical support such as HIV or TB tests as well as specialised health services like mammograms.
Solomon says once some of their clients have managed to find employment and are looking for temporary accommodation, they provide second phase assistance.
He says: “Geoff Burton House is a second phase temporary shelter and can accommodate about 40 men at a time for a period of three to six months. This is the only service where we charge clients a minimum fee, this is also to teach them about responsibility.”
Solomon says like all other NPO’s their biggest challenge is securing financial resources to keep afloat.
Solomon thanked their partners such as Ladles of Love, The Service Dining Rooms and RPJ Helping Hands whom he says are instrumental in helping them see to the needs of the increasing number of homeless people.
Solomon says since 2014 they have also started the Feed5000 initiative.
“This initiative was started after we realised that many services become unavailable to homeless people during the festive season – that includes the feeding schemes.”
He explains that the name has biblical reference to Jesus who fed 5 000 people. He says however, because of the lockdown, this number was far exceeded last year.
“Feed5000 ran from Saturday 12 December 2020 to Sunday 17 January 2021 to support The Service Dining Rooms while they closed for their annual break. Although it has been a challenging period, we are grateful that we were able to serve a total of 11 516 meals over this period surpassing the 10 463 meals served last year.”
The public can assist by either becoming a volunteer or providing financial support.