Partners pray for homeless shelter ahead of opening

Homeless people in Bellville will soon have a safe place to sleep at night.

Mould Empower Serve (MES) and the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) have spent several months turning the old scout hall in AJ West Street into the Safe Space, a night shelter for people living on the streets (“Project for Bellville’s homeless,” Northern News July 28 2016).It is set to open on Monday May 1, if all goes according to plan.

The Safe Space project can accommodate between 50 to 70 people during the day and 20 to 40 people at night who will pay R5 to sleep under carport-style shelters on a first-come-first served basis.

MES held a prayer day for the Safe Space at the facility on Thursday April 20. It was led by Reverend Rod Botsis. MES branch manager Lilly Franks said they did not want to start the project without praying for it. “Corporate prayer is really important,” she said.

VRCID social worker Wilma Piek said the journey had started about three to five years ago when they had realised the need for a place where homeless people could go.

“We found that there was simply not enough places where we could take the homeless people,” she said.

Ms Piek said there were about 700 people living on the streets between Bellville and Parow, with only two shelters that could accommodate about 120 people. The Safe Space was meant to open in March, but Ms Franks said MES had to apply for a permanent-structure permit for the containers they had set up. They had also needed to make some structural changes, which had held up the project.

MES is also part of the City of Cape Town’s winter readiness programme, which provides additional aid and mattress space to the homeless during winter.

Meanwhile Expanded Public Works Programme workers will help the shelter with cooking and cleaning, among other things.