Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department has officially opened its Safe Space for street people as services at the facility continue to grow. The overnight facility, aimed at addressing the shortage of bed space at shelters, has been open on a small scale for the past two weeks to test the intake system and site operation.
The response from street people and other role players has been very positive said Mayco Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith .
"There are 15 street people who have been accommodated thus far and all have returned nightly since we opened. They have provided valuable feedback and we now have a list of street people who have expressed interest in being accommodated at the site once it is fully operational."
The Safe Space is a transitional shelter which provides overnight shelter to up to 230 street people at a facility underneath the Culemborg Bridge on the Foreshore.
"Already many of those who have made use of the facility have indicated that they feel safe and are glad to be off the streets and receiving social assistance. Living on the street isn’t easy and neither is sleeping on the street. It’s cold, wet, uncomfortable and then there is the constant threat of having your meagre possessions stolen or of being attacked," said Smith.
At the Safe Space, street people can make use of basic services like ablutions, water and storage lockers, and from August they will also have access to health services and assistance to help them with any substance abuse issues.
"The space has only just opened and already there is a waiting list. We hope that street people will embrace the services offered, which in turn will lead them off the path of homelessness and eventually to becoming reintegrated into the community."
Street people using the facility are assigned a storage locker, a sleeping pallet, sleeping bag and blanket as well as a wellness pack containing hygiene essentials.
Smith added: "External service providers are providing soup kitchens and cleaning services, while the site will have a dedicated Law Enforcement team for security. Another aim of the project is to take pressure off existing shelters.
"It will take a collective effort to help people get off the street and become part of our society again. We’ve had some partners who have come on board in a big way."
FNB has donated sleeping bags, while the V&A Waterfront has partnered to assist with job opportunities for some of the street people in the Expanded Public Works Programme and who have successfully completed development programmes.
The Cape Town Central City Improvement District has provided sleeping bags, wellness packs, assistance with identifying street people for the space and assistance with security patrols.
It is not a permanent solution, but is aimed at providing temporary relief to street people.
"We don’t want the homeless to see sleeping on the street as the best long-term choice open to them. By working to bring together all the services to work as one, and partnering with others, we can make a real difference to the lives of street people," said Smith.
Residents and organisations who would like to assist street people are encouraged not to give handouts, but instead to support the safe space.
The site can be contacted directly at [email protected] or call 021 801 0140 or 021 801 0082.