George Municipality shields homeless persons for 98 days at temporary shelter during Covid lockdown

George Municipality in conjunction with other stakeholders fed, sheltered and gave basic care services to homeless persons for a total of 98 days during Covid-19 lockdown.

George Law Enforcement official Roland Hardnick assists with serving meals to homeless persons at the temporary shelter, Rosemoor Stadium

The George Municipality’s Community Development section initiated and coordinated the creation of a temporary shelter at Rosemoor Stadium on the 26th March, with 82 homeless persons taken off the streets to keep them safe as per the lockdown regulations applicable at the time. The municipality’s Land Invasion Unit and SAPS  assisted in transporting homeless people to the shelter . Arrivals were screened for Covid-19 by the Department of Health and given food, hygiene packs and a place to sleep (mattresses donated by George Night Shelter and a school). The facility was guarded by security personnel and municipal law enforcement officials. 

Community Development Municipal officials worked tirelessly, seven days a week together with the Department of Social Development and other organisations to feed and shelter the homeless persons. Three meals a day were provided to the residents and donors such as Build on the Rock Ministries, Meals on Wheels, Kingpin Suppliers, Love George and George Night Shelter greatly assisted with the provision of nutritious and warm meals on a daily basis for which George Municipality is very grateful Officials and volunteers initiated board games, supply of magazines and sport activities to help stave off boredom during the lockdown. 

According to Ms Sophia Fanelo , Manager: Social Development at George Municipality, for the past three months her team has worked with Meals on Wheels and CREMHOG (Christian Relieve Ministries for the homeless in George) and provided close to 25 000 meals as well as personal and other supplies and support programmes to the homeless within the safe shelter. During this time, Fanelo said doctors came to the shelter to treat those dependent  on drugs. The doctors also gave training to the municipal officials on how to deal with drug users. Leading up the 1 July, officials spent as much time as possible reuniting individuals with their families whether locally or elsewhere in South Africa. The small group that remained just prior to 1 July have now been relocated to other  permanent shelter centres in George and the Southern Cape and the temporary shelter has been closed . Medical staff who assisted with the persons during their stay at Rosemore Stadium have committed themselves to still deliver their services to these people at their new  places of safety. 

Municipal Manager Trevor Botha,  thanked municipal officials as well as volunteers and organisations who assisted with this mammoth task.  “We extend our great admiration and appreciation to the George Municipality social workers and support staff , volunteers, DSD officials and organisations in George for their continued commitment, patience and bravery. Without everyone’s assistance this task would not have been achievable ,” said Mr Botha. 

The Municipality will need to repair the stadium for use of its intended sport codes including, rugby, cricket, soccer, athletics, tennis, table tennis as well as recreational fitness classes. According to the Sport Manager at the Municipality, Granville Campher, with the easing of the lockdown regulations, the restrictions on various sports are being lifted, specifically non-contact sport at present and the facility will be needed again soon. 

Caption: A homeless person is removed from the street and taken to the temporary shelter at Rosemoor Stadium

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