Municipal project changes lives of people on the street

Success stories of jobs, rehab and family reunions.

Project Hope is a project of George Municipality to help change the lives of people living on the street by creating jobs, helping people through rehabilitation and organising for these people to reunite with their families.

According to Ms Estelle Fredericks, Coordinator of Project Hope, the main purpose of the project is to assist people to be stable and self-sufficient in the long term. These efforts are being curbed by people who supply the people living on the streets with money and other donations in the form of food etc. This gesture is meant for good  but causes an influx of people to the Central Business Core that makes things very difficult for people working in the social sector who wants to get these people off the street.

There are different categories of people who spend their time in the central business area according to research of the Community Services directorate and other departments and organisations. The categories include:

  1. Car guards who come to the central business center early in the morning to generate money and then return as soon as the shopping malls close.
  2. Persons who only come to beg every day –  this include homeless people and people with homes.

Some people gather in front of shopping centres in the hope that good Samaritans will empty their purses to them.

Some of these people beg in busy roads posing a danger to other road users as well as the people they beg from.

According to Fredericks the beggars are getting younger by the day. “ These youngsters are school-going age and walk around town for the immediate benefits begging have, while they have to be in school.  Parents also use their children to beg while they observe from a distance.

She says there  biggest challenge is to alert residents to the disadvantages of donations to beggars.

She says they have already included a flyer in the municipal accounts, they have had radio talks on Eden FM and Heartbeat FM and all municipal directorates have made flyers available to the public to inform them of these social issues.

Yet another of our major challenges is the influx of people outside the George area or surrounding villages as well as other villages in the Western Cape who come to George with the hope of obtaining potential employment opportunities and end up in the streets.

During the past financial year 2017/18, as part of Project Hope, the Community Development section did more than 17 surveys and research on the complaints that are made by the public. The George Municipality Community Development Section is part of a task team with other organisations to get people off the streets. The other organisations involved are George Night Shelter, Cremhoc, Department of Health, Police, Department of Justice, Department of Social Development, Kidstop, Sanca and members of the public. Members of these organisations walk the Streets in town and interview people to get their information. The task team have a meeting once a month.

More than 19 people had a chance to work on the EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme), women are part of an entrepreneurial initiative, where they make products with beading and other handwork. The Municipality helped more than 32 people in the past year to reunite with their families and under certain circumstances pay for these people’s bus tickets to get home if its outside of town. In many instances the Municipality assists some of these destitute people to get their identity documents but only once they have gone through all the checks and balances of the section. People with a dependence on drugs are also assisted.

Ms Estelle Fredericks can be contacted in this regard on 044 802 2015.

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