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Cape Town – While the Covid-19 pandemic has left many South Africans struggling to make ends meet, Mould Empower Serve (MES) and the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID) have recently opened a new drop-in centre in the Parow region that aims to provide social relief while offering skills development to homeless people in the area.
After many years of struggling to gain access to basic services for the homeless adults in Parow, Austen Dundas, owner of a building in the Station Arcade in Parow, made his building available to MES for the full-time drop-in centre.
The centre allows homeless adults to report for a growth shift (job rehabilitation), receive a meal and have access to social developmental services.
MES branch manager Ilse Maartens said that the vision for the centre is to have a long-term impact for every homeless individual in Parow.
“We aim to offer accessible and developmental social services for those who are in need, offer enough GROW life trial working shifts, so that they can generate an income and assist in developing skills that will enable them to be equipped and functional at businesses in Parow,” said Maartens.
“The venue will also be utilised as a ‘winter sleep’ location, where street-based adults will be accommodated during severe cold weather.
“Our other aim is to involve all Parow businesses, faith-based organisations, and community members in this initiative. We are also planning a Centre of Hope (one-stop-service-centre) to provide holistic services to the vulnerable communities in Parow,” added Maartens.
VRCID social development manager Wilma Piek said that the goal of the workshops is to assist the clients to enter the cycle of change where they start to contemplate that change is possible.
“Through exposure to soft skills, life skills like conflict management and preserving meaningful relationships, the goal is that the client can recognise that change is possible and that he or she has the ability to do so. We try to create hope in the individual that he can change. That is why the workshops often include testimonials of previous homeless people who managed to change their lives. The workshops also motivate the clients to access the social work services and other services to create change in their lives,” said Piek.
In line with their vision, the drop-in centre was able to assist people like Lucien Marinus and Jantjie van der Westhuizen, who came to the centre after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.
They attend the workshops in order to get back on their feet. The staff at the VRCID have helped Van der Westhuizen with his CV so that he could get a permanent job and they’ve also been training Marinus to become one of their team leaders.
“The workshops are very interesting – they have inspired me a lot. To anyone living on the street who has lost all hope, I urge you to come and see the MES and VRCID social workers for assistance,” said Marinus.
As Van der Westhuizen and Marinus embark on their new journey, their experiences show how a little assistance can go a long way.