PIPPA PRINGLE reported … Since the last Somerset West Night Shelter AGM in 2012 much has happened, which was reported on at the recent AGM which took place on 15 August 2013. Although too many to mention Chairperson Jo Swart, highlighted the significant ones, reaffirming the organizations contribution to the community and efforts to highlight the plights of the homeless and destitute. The goals set out included converting the staff accommodation into a suitable office, which was able to take place through the help of financial donations as well as donations of furniture. The generosity from donors has resulted in the manager and social worker for the organization having their own office space which features and warm and welcoming reception and meeting area. Furthermore they have been able to arrange for accommodation for the night shift staff which was lacking in the past. Community involvement and support has grown incredibly throughout the past year, which they believe is key to the organization’s grown in significance and impact. It is essential that the shelter is a community concern and not just a concerned groups matter. With more people showing interest through their efforts to advertise, communicate, involve and appeal for assistance, the organization has been able to look beyond what their original goal was. Last year they felt the goal was to have the shelter functioning effectively and efficiently through increased staff members (they now have seven), increased finances (they have more than doubled our income) and collaboration with like organizations. As they have progressed in these areas and seen that the shelter is operating well, this allowed the team to focus on the next goal, and in keeping with their vision of ‘Give Hope and Dignity to the Homeless’ they have started spreading the Word to the homeless on the streets in the Helderberg. This has allowed the team to host various meetings at local churches and community centres for the homeless assisting them with basic needs and administrative assistance with identity documents, social grant applications, old age home applications and possible accommodation in the shelter. During the winter months, and in particular this year, the shelter remains to be oversubscribed with people seeking shelter from the cold, which also includes a waiting list they try had to keep at no more than three days per week. In light of this they recently decided to do night time outreaches to assess the needs on the street at night, confirming yet again that at any given time there are around 700 homeless people on the streets in the Helderberg. Through their continued work with the homeless as well as educating the community about the City of Cape Town’s ‘Give Responsibly’ campaign, the organization strives to become a ‘Point of Call’ for the community when dealing with individuals who are begging, asking for assistance or any other issues pertaining to the homeless. In keeping with the ‘Give Responsibly’ campaign the organization has recently launched a Voucher campaign, whereby vouchers can be purchased for R10 each. These are then given to those asking for help instead of cash. In this way the money goes to the organization and not the individual. With this voucher the individual is guaranteed a warm meal, clothing, shower, bedding and if possible accommodation. These vouchers can be purchased from the LIFE Church Somerset West, Helderberg Crime Watch office (located at the Somerset Mall), United Church in Bright Street, to mention but a few. ‘Without the continued support of the community we wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as we planned to and look forward to fulfilling our new goals, and appreciate the generosity so much,’ comments Jo Swart.
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