Cape Town – As part of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District's (CCID) winter readiness programme, it’s rolling out Street Sleeper bags, to ease the plight of those living on the street.
The CCID Social Development team’s tagline is "show you care".
There are around 700 people living on the streets of the central city. This extends to more than 1 200 if you include people who sleep rough in the surrounding neighbourhoods but spend much of their time downtown.
Though they live in the public eye, the depth of their trauma is either often overlooked or considered to be a burden to a society that does not yet fully comprehend how limited the access to formal services or shelter is in Cape Town.
"The only way to understand and assist is to treat them like you would anyone else. And that requires caring and compassion," said CCID Social Development manager Pat Eddy. "This is a particularly pertinent issue in the colder, wetter months, when storms like we had two weeks ago make life very difficult for those without shelter."
The winter readiness programme includes the provision of 100 waterproof ponchos, as well as instant soup, for distribution by the fieldworkers to their clients as needed. The CCID is also working with Youth Solutions Africa’s Woodstock shelter to ensure it has enough bed space for up to 30 of its clients every night.
Additionally in 2017, the CCID has purchased 150 “Show you care”-branded Street Sleepers for distribution to its street clients.
Street Sleeper is a Woodstock-based NPO that upcycles vinyl billboards into sleeping bags.
This transforms the negative impact of waste into immediate relief for those living on the street. The bag is durable and waterproof, and transforms into a carrier bag for storing possessions during the day.
At night, the user can fill the pillow slip area with clothes for head support. And in the event of a Street Sleeper going missing, a CCID fieldworker will be able to return the bag, when found, through a numbering system that will link the property back to the original recipient.
The CCID took delivery of 150 Street Sleepers on June 15.
CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said: "Many may say we are encouraging and enabling people to sleep on the streets. The reality is that, as with all other neighbourhoods throughout the City, whether there are city improvement districts or not, we have a street community."
The CCID is also rolling out a streetpole poster campaign around the CBD to draw attention to the disparity between those who have shelter and those who don’t, and as a call to action to the public and other sectors.
Evangelinos appeals to them to also show they care.
"Until there are enough facilities to accommodate the homeless, we need to find solutions that best meet the challenges. And we will only find the ultimate solutions when we all work together – private, public and NGO sectors. But for now, let’s all at least do the best we can to help the truly destitute. It’s all part of being a caring Central City we can be proud of."