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LONG STREET PROJECT TO UPLIFT THE HOMELESS

LONG STREET PROJECT TO UPLIFT THE HOMELESS

16 April 2019

An innovative project, Make Long Street Better, aimed at uplifting the lives of eight known homeless individuals in Long Street by providing them with work and the means to earn a living, has begun. The pilot project was launched on 1 April 2019 by Long Street Associates in conjunction with the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) and Streetscapes, a work-based rehabilitation programme.

The eight individuals have entered into a six-month contract with Streetscapes, from which they will receive remuneration, training and assistance with administrative issues such as ensuring they have ID documents and are able to open bank accounts.

The Streetscapes programme run by Khulisa Social Solutions is aimed at the chronic homeless and repeat offenders who are often unable to stay at shelters due to heavy drinking or drug use. For this group, Khulisa advocates for sheltered employment with many opportunities existing within the green economy, such as urban gardening and recycling projects.

While it is still early days, the pilot project is progressing well. Says Herbert November, one of the two auxiliary social workers contracted for the project: “The first few days were a bit challenging as is usually the case with a new project, but we’re pleased that business owners in the area are starting to warm up to the participants. They now recognise them by their uniforms and greet them and are looking at them in a different light. This is a positive development as a project of this nature is essentially about changing mindsets as we’re striving to uplift vulnerable individuals in a responsible, meaningful and sustainable manner. We are also starting to see the participants gaining a bit of confidence and taking ownership.”

Ed Saunders, owner of both Knife and Fork restaurants and a key role player in initiating the project to “make Long Street better”, shares Herbert’s sentiments: “The project has huge potential and clearly it can work. It’s all about finding enough funding [so it’s sustainable]. This can only work if everyone is committed to make it happen.”

The pilot project sees two teams of four individuals, who are being supervised by auxiliary social workers, providing cleaning services identified jointly with retailers and restaurant-owners on Long Street and the CCID Urban Management team. They start at one end of Long Street (Turkish Baths and Strand Street) and work in shifts (which include one-on-one sessions with coaches and social workers) from 08h00 to 11h00 and 14h00 to 16h00. They break for lunch from 11h00 to 12h30 and have a group session from 12h30 to 13h30.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

While the pilot project has gotten off the ground, funding to keep it going is still needed.

Says Jesse Laitinen, manager of strategic partnerships at Khulisa Social Solutions: “We are asking for an initial contribution of R500 per month, per shop or restaurant – to be paid directly to Streetscapes every month – for a trial six-month period. Every rand invested will go towards uplifting vulnerable individuals and if the project is a success, it will be extended by another six months.”

At present, nine businesses on Long Street have come on board and are financially supporting the pilot project. Jesse adds: “I know there will be more in the future as the cleaners prove themselves. I’m also excited about partnering with residents associations to address homeless encampments in their area. Everyone agrees that nobody should be living on the streets. However, without real pathways out, change is hard. This is why it’s crucial that we all help the City in this regard to find more effective and humane ways to deal with these problems more effectively.”

Pat Eddy, the CCID’s Social Development manager says her team is encouraged by this initiative and is hopeful that it will receive sufficient financial backing from businesses in the area so street people, who are often perceived as “difficult” and who are dealing with a lot of challenges, can move towards rehabilitation and a sense of purpose and belonging.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to the Make Long Street Better pilot project, use the following banking details to make your contribution on the 25th of every month to Streetscapes:

Name of account: Khulisa Fundraising Account
Bank: Standard Bank
Account number: 370670124
Branch: Hyde Park
Reference: Streetscapes Long Street plus your company/shop name

For more information, please contact Jesse on 083 700 6064 or e-mail jesse@khulisa.org.za or Ed Saunders at info@fork-restaurants.co.za

Image: Scott Arendse, CCID Online Coordinator

Tags: Long Street Streetscapes Jesse Laitinen homeless people street people