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10 effective ways to help someone in need without handing out money

There are roughly 7 000 homeless people in Cape Town. With South Africa’s unemployment rate at 26.5% for the first quarter of 2017, the numbers don’t look good for the Mother City. There are countless opportunities to help those less fortunate, but how can you be part of sustainable solutions? Giving money can contribute to cycles of crime and or continue to fuel their drug or alcohol addiction, so what else can be done? How do you offer them a hand up rather than a hand out?


Sustainable solutions are needed to combat homelessness in Cape Town. That’s why we’ve gathered 10 ways for you to help the less fortunate without having to scrounge for change when you stop at a robot.


  1. Volunteer: it doesn’t have to be complicated to help someone. Giving of your time, or donating your skills at a local organisation or shelter that has projects in place to help the homeless is simple and effective. You can give 30 minutes or several hours depending on your availability. Not only does this help the homeless, it helps the organisation too, which allows them to do their job better.



  1. Donate to local organisations: this is a great option if you don’t have time to volunteer. Giving donations to organisations with initiatives already in place ensures that the money, food or clothing for example will be used for targeted projects in an accountable way.


  1. Buy or give people what they need: often people give money in the hope that it’ll be used to buy food. The harsh reality is that a lot of people living on the street won’t use that money for food. So how can you help? Keep a little extra cash on you, and next time you’re in a supermarket buy a sandwich or food ready to hand to local homeless people once you’re back on the street.


  1. Get familiar with local shelters: it’s sometimes hard to know where people can find shelter and be taken care of. You can help by getting familiar with local organisations and shelters so that when someone needs a place to stay, you can point them in the right direction. A good place to start is with the VRCID and the NGOs that they work with in the Northern suburbs such as MES, The Haven, Elim Night shelter and TASP .


  1. Give a cup of warmth: some coffee shops and restaurants let you pay for a coffee or something to eat so that when someone in need comes in, they can help. Sometimes you can even leave them a note with an encouraging message. Some organisations that do this include Motherland Coffee and Xpresso Cafe.


  1. Donate clothes and shoes: so many of us have more than we need, so why not help the homeless by clearing out your clutter and clothing them. Many of the homeless aren’t protected from the elements when sleeping on the streets, so make sure that clothes are still in good condition. This isn’t a way for you to get rid of ragged items, think carefully about what will keep someone warm and dry.


  1. Provide employment: if you’re a local business owner in the area, perhaps you could offer temporary employment for an individual. Even if it’s only part-time, they’ll gain self-worth from contributing to something structured and worthwhile, will feel they’ve worked for the money they earn, and will gain skills which could help them gain further employment.


  1. Pack another snack: make an extra sandwich to take with you on the drive to work and hand it to someone you pass on the way.


  1. Give the basics: it’s easy to take basic amenities for granted like toiletries and fresh water to drink. Find a store that sells soaps and toiletries in bulk and donate it to a specific organisation or shelter, or hand it out yourself. Do the same with bottled water – it’s what people need for basic survival.


  1. Give them a moment: remember that everyone is human. Approach all you meet with kindness even if you can’t give time or money. A smile goes a long way; take a moment to wave at a child or an elderly person.



These are just some of the ways you can give someone a hand up rather than a hand out. If you would like more information about organisations that need extra help in the VRCID area, get in touch with us and get involved.

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