How you can help Cape Town's homeless during lockdown
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The Cape Town City Centre NGOs, businesses and residents have joined forces to offer an extraordinary lifeline to the CBD’s homeless community as the extended lockdown wreaks havoc on their existence.
But while efforts to alleviate the plight of street people when it comes to food, limited shelter and social services have been laudable, there is still a huge need.
The global pandemic is exacerbating the existing challenges of the central city’s homeless population tenfold. It’s now harder than ever to access food, a safe space to shelter, basic ablution facilities and medical care.
There’s a significant risk of the virus spreading like wildfire in a community with limited access to running water and ablution facilities. Additionally, empty streets mean limited income-earning opportunities. It’s a dire situation.
But phenomenal work is being done to alleviate the suffering of street people and provide ongoing care since the nationwide lockdown was enforced and then extended, says Pat Eddy, manager of Social Development at the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).
Eddy says the CCID has been primarily playing a supportive role to its NGO partners, helping to provide additional food, PPE (including masks and gloves), soap, hand sanitiser, mobile hand sanitiser stations, blankets, shoes and personal hygiene care bags with basic toiletries.
While donations stream in, Eddy says more assistance is required as the need is ongoing.
“We are about to launch our annual Show You Care campaign to create awareness about the challenges this community faces, and will be calling for the donation of money, clothing and food.
"In the meantime, we ask that the public assist where they can: even the smallest contributions can make a massive difference right now.”
Here’s how to help:
Khulisa Social Solutions
Jesse Laitenan, Strategic Partnership manager for Khulisa Social Solutions, says that its work-based rehabilitation programme Streetscapes is working hard to help people survive in extremely challenging circumstances.
“Our teams have been providing transportation and accommodation, food and water, sanitisers and soap, and information – something which many of us with access to TVs, phones and the internet take for granted.
"We are committed to finding real solutions by organising smaller sites that can accommodate those left without help on the streets,” she says.
Khulisa Social Solutions recently established a new home for 26 beneficiaries in Chester Road, Walmer Estate, and urgently needs bedding, non-perishable food, cleaning utensils, tech appliances.
The Haven Night Shelter
Hassan Khan, CEO of The Haven Night Shelter, says that it has been really tough with extremely high demand and constrained food supply.
“Retailers usually give us food that is close to its sell-by-date, but since Lockdown they have tightened up the stock available so there is less wastage.”
He says that the CCID’s assistance has helped greatly, and that donations of money and bulk food items by the public will also make a massive difference.
The Haven desperately needs donations of clothing, games to keep residents entertained and a public address system. Bulk food items (like rice and porridge) are also extremely appreciated. But cash is best so that the NGO can purchase the vital personal protection equipment it needs, along with other key staples.
Ladles of Love
Danny Diliberto, founder of Ladles of Love, says its Covid-19 Food & Sandwich Drive has grown in leaps and bounds since the start of the national lockdown. Diliberto says the team’s food production has increased by 1000 % and the need just keeps growing.
“Before the lockdown, we were doing about 1.2 tons of food a week. We are now doing about 10 tons a week which is incredible.”
The highly efficient operation, powered by an army of volunteers, has made such an impact and expanded at such a rate that they have partnered with CTICC who has offered the NPO more than 1 500 square metres of space to serve as Ladles of Love’s temporary logistics headquarters from 27 April to 30 June 2020.
Diliberto says that getting food is becoming increasingly difficult for NGOs, with supply shortages a daily reality as staples run dry and suppliers shut down. Right now, the public can help most through financial donations to help secure the food supplies that Ladles of Love urgently needs.
TB HIV Care
Ruth Verster, Project Coordinator for TB HIV Care, says the organisation is currently distributing nutritious food packs and personal hygiene essentials. The organisation works to prevent, find and treat TB and HIV. Verster says clients are more afraid of hunger than Covid-19, as most have been impacted by limited income-earning opportunities.
Additionally, TB HIV Care has more clients on Opioid Substitution Therapy than ever before, providing critical aid while many individuals undergo substance withdrawal.
The Service Dining Rooms
Karen Cain, Operations Manager for The Service Dining Rooms, says the NGO is feeding up to 400 people a day and supplying drinking water.
Approximately 200 pre-packaged meals are given to the micro groups of homeless people who are staying under bridges and in homemade shacks, from the CBD through to Muizenberg.
U-Turn is helping get the food through to areas further afield. The rest of the meals are distributed to the homeless outside their premises in Canterbury Street.
Cain adds that there is a huge need for food for creches and primary school children, because the school feeding schemes have virtually come to a standstill.
Youth Solutions Africa
John Philmon, director of Youth Solutions Africa, says the shelter is in lockdown and continues to offer essential services to clients in its care. In addition, it provides about 300 meals a day to those still living on the streets, along with water for drinking and sanitation.
“The CCID is supporting us by sponsoring meals and providing hand sanitisers, hand wash and toiletries. The public can also make a big difference by donating funds as well as toiletries, hand sanitisers and hand wash, food items and vegetables.
"At the moment we need a fridge and freezer as our appliances have packed up.”
Eddy says many CBD stakeholders are making an effort to help, including Beerhouse which has opened its kitchen to feed street people by making and donating soup to Ladles of Love and the Community Chest, which has set up a Covid-19 Emergency Health Fund and is distributing supplies from its basement.
“It’s been wonderful to see how NGOs and businesses have pulled together during this time.”
She adds that people can join Cape Town Together Community Action Network – particularly the CBD CAN (Community Action Network) for inner-city residents – to get involved through volunteering or donations.
This group is playing a pivotal role in helping the homeless to get the assistance they need, and to provide care packs, including masks, soap, sanitiser and a towel cloth to NGOs that work with the homeless in the CBD.
If you are in a position to help, please consider donating to one of the CCID’s NGO partners:
To donate to Ladles of Love,
To donate to Youth Solutions Africa,
To donate to TB HIV Care,
To donate to Khulisa Social Solutions,
To donate to The Haven Night Shelter,
To donate to The Service Dining Rooms,
For more information on the CCID’s social development department, please visit CapeTownCCID.org