ORGANIC VEGGIE GARDEN ‘a dream come true’

Organic Garden

Practical training on organic planting and seedlings.

  The weekend of the 24th and 25th of August saw a buzz of activity at the Somerset West Night Shelter as Urban Harvest arrived with training material and a truck loaded full of organic garden supplies. A project put together and funded by Sandy Immelman, the organic food garden has been months in planning and was successfully implemented with the assistance of the City of Cape Town and the Night Shelter. Ms Immelman’s idea was to up-skill clients in the Night Shelter, giving them organic gardening knowledge, whilst making the Shelter more food secure, thus freeing up funds for other much-needed items, as well as improving the nutritional value of their vegetables. The hope is that there may even be sufficient organic produce for them to sell, giving an opportunity to generate income. Sandy Immelman approached Councillor Pringle who put her in touch with Nomfundo Mdingi – Programme Manager for Poverty Alleviation & Reduction. Ms Mdingi was impressed with the initiative and offered to supply the Shelter with tools, as well as to cater for the two day event. A number of City of Cape Town members attended the training along with Ms Mdingi – including a representative from the Street People’s Programme as well as from Social Development & Early Childhood Development. Ben Getz of Urban Harvest did the training and implementation of the organic food garden with ten of the men in the Night Shelter, along with their auxiliary social worker and the City of Cape Town team. Topics included: What is organic food? Compost building, Bed layout and preparation, Pest control and Maintenance. Each afternoon was filled with practical work as the organic compost heap, seedling nursery and veggie beds were prepared and planted. This organic food garden is a great example of community and City involvement in a sustainable upliftment initiative. THANK YOU SANDY, WE APPRECIATE YOU!   

a GREAT AGM, well done everyone!

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.
Shelter AGM - Nicolas Van Rooyen, Wayne Spammer & Nazleah Simmons

Our Driver Nic, Manager Wayne & Auxiliary Social Worker Naz


The 18th is next week Thursday and it just happens to be MANDELA DAY.  Which is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did for more than 67 years. Start by devoting 67 minutes to community service on Mandela Day, on July 18 each year, and then make every day your Mandela Day by doing some good for others. Our Shelter desperately needs funds so that we can continue to help people who need us.  We have so many people to reach and need your involvement and support.  For those who LIKE THEIR COFFEE STRONG… we have the perfect opportunity for you.  Our local Theatre House, affectionately known as the PLAY HOUSE has given us the oppertunity to host one of their play nights.  The show is DRACULA, based on the original novel by Bram Stroker, the first vampire story, it promises the audience more thrills than they have ever experienced in a theatre.  Tickets are only R90, which include CHEESE & WINE.  We start at 7:15 pm, where you will have the opportunity to meet all the Shelter Staff.  And the show kicks off at 8 pm.  We have been told that a 12 year old sat through it with no problem, so it should be ok for most adults.  We would love for you to be BRAVE and simply come knowing you are HELPING THE HOMELESS in the HELDERBERG and the BONUS would be serving your 67 minutes for MANDELA DAY. We have registered with the Mandela Website: Bram Stroker Dracula


Ralph & Nicolene A well known face at the robot on the corner of Victoria road and the N2.  I have asked him several times when I stopped at the robot to please come to the Night Shelter where he can sleep in a warm bed and receive food every day.  He always told me “No I don’t want to go to the shelter”  (he never gave a reason why). On Monday the 27th of May Ralph came to see me at the shelter and told me “Juffrou ek wil nou maar liewer by die shelter kom bly”.  He was taken in and provided with clean clothes, a bed and food to eat. Ralph also received assistance with his disability grant.  He had been on the system as receiving one, but someone had stolen his card and was accessing his money.  The next step in helping Ralph would be to visit his family to establish the possibility of reunification – If this is not possible, we need to find a home for Ralph that takes care of disabled adults on a permanent basis. Ralph will also be taken to the local clinic for a medical evaluation. There is still a lot to be done but the first steps have been taken and Ralph realises that a life on the streets is not worth living.  You may see him again at the traffic light, he still finds comfort in begging, but for now at least is is safe in the shelter at night and not needing to spend the winter in doorways. Nicolene (Social Worker)

An Easy Lie to Tell

I thought I would take a moment to share a photo of Sandile Sigwimnxa who arrived at a local church last night around 8 pm.  He was clearly needing help and hungry.  I took the time to gently discuss his predicament.  He say’s that he sleeps by busy corner and his home address used to be Nzuzo Street in Sir Lowry’s Pass.  He did mention a wife, but I got the impression he was no longer welcome at home. I asked him if anyone helps him, he said he receives soup from the Helderberg Street Peoples Centre in Victoria Street and he had been to a place which he couldn’t get to the name of to stay, but he said he couldn’t pay the R10.  Well he didn’t realised that I am the chairperson, I contacted the staff team and asked if we had ever had Sandile stay at the Shelter, I also had the photo you see.  They confirmed as I thought that he has never checked into the shelter. On the street words get’s around and the easy story to tell is that they don’t have the money.  Our shelter provides accommodation and all the additional services for FREE for the FIRST 7 DAYS.  There after depending on the individuals situation we will charge anything from R10 – R15.  If the client we are assisting needs to wait to receive Government Grant aid in leu of there situation, we will wait too before we ask them to contribute.  If they are elderly, disabled or cannot earn we will not charge.  We have many in house chores that clients who cannot pay can sign up for in order to pay their way.  We believe in a Hand Up, not a Hand Out.  And with every person we assist we aim to get them to the place of self reliance. Please feel free to phone the shelter if you to come across this convenient story and would like to ‘check in’ on a person. Our number is: 021 852 4984 or you are welcome to phone Wayne Spammer the Manager at any time on: 072 851 5362 WHAT HAPPENED TO SANDILE AFTER THAT?   I gave him something to eat, a food parcel and clear instruction to go to the Shelter the next day as we CAN HELP HIM.Sandile Sigwimnxa small