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Our new field worker Tonio is proud to make a difference

Tonio together with his social field worker colleagues (from left to right): Allistair Scholtz, Veronica Geduld and Tonio Gantana.

With the growing number of homeless and vulnerable people in Bellville and Parow, social development and upliftment remain a priority for our team – especially since the COVID-19 crisis.

We are excited to announce that we have a newly-appointed field worker, Tonio Gantana, who will work together with our field workers Allistair Scholtz and Veronica Geduld to liaise with street-bound people on a daily basis. Our field workers form the basis of our Social Development team under the management of Wilma Piek who, together with Mould Empower Serve (MES) and other partner organisations and NGOs, provide much-needed services to the homeless and vulnerable.

The necessity and demand for social development services have increased exponentially since the pandemic started. As a result, together with our partner organisations, we have had to rapidly move our emphasis on social development services. We are proud of the results so far, having served 81 900 meals to the homeless and vulnerable during the 50 days of lockdown levels 4 and 5, and seeing a 1 375% increase in job creation for MES workers from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020 – amongst many other successes.

Wilma, our Social Development Manager, commented: “Our fieldworkers are the most important component to engage with the street-based people – to meet them where they are at and to offer them assistance.”

Assistance will depend on the immediate need of the street-based person (food, accommodation, transport, health care or acquiring an identification document), as well as a long term sustainable plan to assist them off the streets on a permanent basis.

“This is of course not even possible if the street-bound person does not trust our fieldworkers and know that they really care about them. This is why our field workers are so important and why we value them and the work they do immensely,” adds Wilma.

Tonio has already fitted seamlessly into his new role, with previous work experience as a Correctional Services official, community outreach worker and facilitator. His extensive knowledge and strong communication and networking skills come from years of working with different communities in difficult circumstances.

“Just this morning, when I was out in the field, we helped a homeless woman bypass the long queues to get her COVID-19 test required to book into the temporary housing structure, Paint City – all in under two hours. This was due to the incredible networks that the VRCID team have created, which allows you to make a difference in people’s lives. We become agents of change, and that’s what makes it all worth it,” comments Tonio.


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