Needs of homeless people discussed at conference

Cape Flats Nature Reserve conservationist Robin Adams, with firefighters and UWC staff, helped save the day after a fire which broke out shortly after midnight on New Years Day almost destroyed buildings in the reserve.

Homeless people and representatives from the City’s street people unit and law enforcement have met for a conference on the needs of the homeless.

At the conference, at the Parow civic centre, on World Homeless Day, Monday October 10, the homeless described their many challenges, and the City outlined the help it gives and its efforts to build bridges between them and the communities where they live as well as with the City itself.

The City said the conference had pointed to ways in which it can improve its relationship with the homeless, and it would discuss the results of the conference with relevant NGOs.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, said it was the first time homeless people, through the City’s Street People Committee, had “taken ownership” of the proceedings.

“Having a platform to present their perspectives enriched proceedings and allowed us to better understand the root of homelessness, as well as the key challenges to long-term rehabilitation,” she said.

The conference promoted the City’s “give responsibly” policy, which discourages residents and visitors from giving handouts to street people directly, urging them instead to donate to charities helping the homeless.

“Giving street people money or food directly only helps to sustain their life on the streets,”said Ms Little.