Shelters give homeless a second chance

The Department of Social Development partnered with the Al-Imdaad Foundation to donate 100 hygiene and sanitary packs to the Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River on World Homeless Day on Tuesday October 10. From left, are social worker Andrit Jeneke; house mother Liza Ortell; shelter manager Shafeek Ortell; Rasheed Ibrahim of Al-Imdaad, David Abrahams, from Social Development, and social worker Brandon Lebuso.

A woman who has slept on the streets of Kuils River for many years has finally sought help at a shelter after she attended a World Homeless Day event organised by the City of Cape Town.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, praised the City’s street people unit for persuading the woman to seek help, during the function at Oasis in Schaapkraal last Wednesday.

“One of our reintegration unit officers has been engaging with a 49-year-old woman for the better part of the year on the streets of Kuils River.

“She has lived on the streets for more than five years and has been refusing offers of social assistance until now,” said Mr Smith.

“The woman whose identity cannot be revealed said she was inspired by the motivational speakers at the event who were once on the streets and have since successfully been rehabilitated.”

The woman had been placed in a shelter and would now start a “personal development plan with the aim of permanent reintegration”.

Mr Smith added: “Not only do our staff members have to win the trust of the people they engage with but apart from factors like unemployment and access to documentation and grants, there are also much deeper issues that need to be addressed to successfully rehabilitate someone living on the streets.”

Tuesday October 10 marked World Homeless Day, and Sihle Ngobese, spokesman for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said the department had allocated R15.7 million to 64 NGOs across the city to help street people.

“This funding also reaches a growing network of 23 shelters for homeless people. These shelters provide 1 391 bed spaces and have a responsibility to promote the delivery of safe, accountable and cost-effective services for homeless people,” he said.

Mr Ngobese said the largest numbers of homeless people were found in the greater Cape Town area.

“According to the latest Street People Survey, there are an estimated 4 862 people living and sleeping on the streets. Of this number, an estimated 700 live in the CBD.

“We also help reunite street people with their families and communities and have 15 specialist families social workers and two social work supervisors on board to make this happen,” he said.

The public can contact the department’s hotline at 0800 220 250 to find out how to donate to registered NGOs and shelters helping the homeless.