"When the safe space was created by the City I had very high hopes, but certain issues are left without having been dealt with," writes Danny Oosthuizen. Picture: City of Cape Town.
I’m 19kg underweight, otherwise doing well. 

On Mandela Day I had a surprise visit from the Western Cape Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo.  A moment I’ll never forget.

There was a meeting recently at Hope Exchange. Various NGOs gathered to tackle homeless challenges.

The outcome was to be sent to the City for consideration. However, the City arrived uninvited and unannounced. They even recorded the conversations.

Imagine that.

When the safe space was created by the City I had very high hopes. They might be full most of the time but certain issues are left without having been dealt with.

They’re sleeping on palettes too small to carry a single mattress. They have to sleep on them just like that.

When it rains and trucks drive past, water splashes through the netting. Water runs down a pillar like a waterfall.

No cooked meals are supplied and nobody can cook. Have they not heard of the Food Bank? Red tape for bridge dwellers. The hot water tap to the shower is not connected (it is mid-winter).

Now let us have a look at current NGOs who got it right - Kerry Hoffman and some of her family and friends pulled up over five years ago at that time next to the St George’s Cathedral and from out of the boot of her car we were fed, and given biltong, sweets and sandwiches, etc.

She came once a month every Saturday. And so Souper Troopers was born.

She did it purely on donations from anyone who heard about it, from public support, hotels and businesses. They are a registered NPO and PBO.

Another person is Sam Grass. She came to Souper Troopers on her birthday and had a party with us.

Since then she is very active in the homeless community.

The power house of GrandWest is another phenomenal group of people who are very active in the plight of the needy; Heidi Edson, Mervyn Naidoo, Nicci Botha, Eloise Matthys and Melanie Smirnhoff are a blessing for our needy community, they act relentlessly.

Jesse Laitinen from Streetscapes, employs unemployed people for real.

Most of them still work today and have been reunited at home.

Mr Shaun Shelly and his colleague Julie MacDonall are representatives at the UN for their drug policy.

They also have a network called Sanpud - South African Network of People using drugs.

People who are caught up in using heroine (hunga) are literally picked up from the gutter.

Following the international guidelines regarding harm reduction there is an opioid replacement programme.

This is run by Tara Gerardy and her team from TB HIV association. Heroin gets replaced with methadone.

Users get clean and return home fully functional and reintegrated into society.

Andrea Schneider is also responsible for programmes provided to users.

The City of Cape Town takes no action to support or fund some of these initiatives.

Even for the needle clean-up project they don’t provide stipends.

* Danny Oosthuizen is the ambassador of #TheDignityProject. In his weekly column for the Cape Argus he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus