TOUCH BASE: The Culemborg Safe Space located on the Foreshore has already seen 268 clients move through its gates since mid-July 2018.
Cape Town -  The City of Cape Town’s Culemborg Safe Space for street people is starting to see results. In the first three months of operation, the centre has assisted dozens of street people in plotting a different course.

Set up as a transitional space for street people who want to move off the streets, the Culemborg Safe Space located on the Foreshore has already seen 268 clients move through its gates since mid-July 2018.  

Of these, 210 were male and 58 were female. The average age of men using the Safe Space is 52, and that of women is 41.

The overwhelming majority of clients were living on the streets in the Cape Town central business district.

"This is not surprising, because of the location of the Safe Space. It is our intention to open similar facilities in other parts of the metropole, which will be easily accessible in areas that people are familiar with. However, much of our plans are budget dependent and the City will possibly also consider partnerships with the private sector to establish more Safe Spaces," said Mayco Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith.

Of the clients who have accessed the Safe Space:

  • 48 have secured part-time employment through links to organisations such as Jesus Saves and Straatwerk
  • 1 was assisted to secure a public driving permit and is now employed as a taxi driver
  • 1 has secured permanent employment through the V&A Waterfront
  • 2 have secured permanent employment through the Cape Town Central City Improvement District
  • 1 has relocated to George and now has permanent work as a diesel mechanic
  • 8 have been relocated to their areas of origin outside Cape Town
  • 6 have been reunited with their families
  • 2 seniors have been placed in frail care facilities
  • 2 have been placed in alternative shelters closer to families and work opportunities
  • 58 are attending development programmes
  • A further 200 EPWP opportunities will be available over the festive season
  • The Sea Point, Fresnaye and Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ Association agreed to assist in securing 31 identity documents for the clients
"There have been approximately 50 people who left the Safe Space. It’s disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. There are some rules at the Space around substance use and clients have to commit to some form of development geared towards reintegration. Not everyone is ready for that step and we respect that.

"I am, however, very pleased with those who have stayed the course and taken the opportunities that have been available to them. The City and its many partners will continue working hard to help these clients realise their goals. It is worth reminding the public that there are many very complicated reasons why people end up on the street, and successful reintegration hinges on addressing those reasons, so it is not an overnight process," added Smith.

Clients who utilise the Safe Space are pre-screened and referred by the Street People Unit, that was established to give effect to the City’s Street People Programme.

The programme was introduced to help persons living on the streets of Cape Town and aims to facilitate a developmental approach in addressing the needs of street people.

Services include:
  • relocation of street people to various shelters across the city
  • relocation to place of origin
  • reunification of street people with their family and community of origin
  • assistance with access to identity documents and social grants
  • access to substance abuse programmes on site
  • access to health services on site
  • developmental opportunities
  • temporary work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme
  • assistance in job placement
  • access to 200 funeral policies sponsored by Mosaic Funerals
The reintegration teams conduct public outreach to street people on a daily basis across the metropole and also conduct community awareness projects focusing on ‘Giving Responsibly’.

Field officers are responsible for outreach work in their demarcated area and for responding to complaints. This entails screening, data collection and offering social assistance to the street person.

Reintegration officers are responsible for case management of clients willing to accept assistance. Once a client has accepted the social assistance, they are relocated to a shelter temporarily whilst the reintegration officer establishes whether the client can be reunified with his/her family and identifies additional needs of the client in respect of other services, e.g. health services, mental health services and substance abuse interventions.  

The teams also join Law Enforcement for joint operations across the city at street people hot spots in order to offer social services during these operations.

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