Celebrating 15 years of hope

Members from the Hope House Counselling Centre, from left, are Kuils River centre manager Natalie Douman, schools programme manager Nicky Retief, and registered counsellor Samuel Vorster.

There is a serious need for trauma counselling in schools, according to Judy Strickland, the director of non-profit Hope House.

The organisation, which counsels children, adolescents, adults and families, celebrated its 15th anniversary at Canal Walk on Wednesday April 10.

Ms Strickland founded Hope House from her Lakeside home in 2004. It has grown to three centres – based in Bergvliet, Kuils River and Table View – with 95 volunteers and 12 full-time staff.

Ms Strickland has started a pilot project with a school about being “trauma-informed”.

She showed pictures of weapons confiscated from primary school pupils who arm themselves on their way to school for protection.

These children were dealing with gangsterism, drugs and other social ills that hindered learning, said Ms Strickland.

The pilot project trained teachers on how to work with children affected by trauma.

“If we don’t do this we are going to lose our children,” said Ms Strickland.

Sharna Hernandez, the speaker in the Western Cape legislature, was the guest speaker for the evening.

She agreed that “trauma informed care” in schools was a necessity and should be part of the school curriculum.

“Trauma is very real. It is present with us all the time. But the ability to recognise it and seek help for it is important,” said Ms Hernandez.

Bullying had also taken on a new meaning since her days as a pupil. Now children were committing suicide because of cyber bullying.

Family time was important, she stressed. “We are so busy that we’ve forgotten how to be human beings,” she said.

For more information about Hope House visit www.hopehouse.org.za or call the Table View branch at 021 522 9228.