Elim night shelter ready for winter

Elim night shelter residents enjoying the sun and the shade.

As winter approaches, many homeless people have to endure cold, wet weather, but shelters are getting ready to welcome them to a place safe from the storms, and one such place is Elim Night Shelter.

Shafeek Ortell, the Elsie River shelter’s manager, says they are ready to receive those in need.

“We are always ready,” he says. “We have enough space to manage up to 100 people. Right now we have 19 ladies and 51 gents at this shelter.”

The City’s annual winter readiness programme helps shelters prepare for an influx of homeless, but it didn’t happen last year because of the national lockdown, and Mr Ortell says he is still waiting to hear what the plan is for the programme this year.

“But we are ready now and will be when winter comes.”

However, he adds that not all homeless people want to stay at the shelter because of its rules.

“We have a curfew, we don’t allow alcohol or drugs on the property and three meals are served at specific times. Most of the street people don’t want to follow these rules and leave after a day or two, but they are always welcome back, but I think they prefer being out on the street.”

Elim shelter manager Shafeek Ortell in the men’s quarters showing off the neatly made-up bunk beds.

Patricia October, 57, is living on the streets for eight years now and she has no intention of going to a shelter.

“I don’t want to be told where to sleep and when. I have a shack in the squatter camp and I can come and go as I please,” she says.

“Shelters have rules and that is not for me. In fact many of my friends feel the same way. We are happy where we are. We get good food from some people; we get money, so this is what we want to do.”

A couple she was with on the corner of Frans Conradie Drive and Joubert Streets in Goodwood didn’t want to be named but said they would have to sleep in separate rooms at a shelter even though they were married.

The City did not respond to questions about its winter readiness programme by deadline.

Patricia October next to a makeshift shelter on the corner of Frans Conradie Drive and Joubert Street.