Muizeneberg Opens New Service Centre to Assist Homeless Amid Rising COVID-Induced Poverty
Photo Cred: Muizenberg Improvement District

The Muizenberg Improvement District and U-Turn have opened a service centre for the homeless amid rising COVID-induced poverty.


Western Cape, South Africa (18 April 2021) – The Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) has partnered with veteran NPO U-Turn to open a new service centre that assists and uplifts people living on the streets in the Muizenberg area.

While Muizenberg has long been a safe haven for people experiencing homelessness, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen exponential growth in the number of vulnerable people seeking refuge on the streets of the seaside suburb.

“MID had been in talks with U-Turn for quite some time about starting a drop-in centre for people experiencing homelessness in and around Muizenberg. This is largely because the local residential and business community, in general, does not hold a ‘NIMBY’ (“not in my back yard”) attitude and instead has constantly striven to find sustainable ways to assist people in need”, explained MID Chair Peter Corbett.

“As a direct result, Muizenberg has had an influx of people suffering from homelessness during the past year as the pandemic pushed more and more people into poverty and onto the streets, resulting in the need for a service centre becoming more pressing than ever before. We are therefore extremely pleased that, after months of battling red tape and trying to find a suitable venue, U-Turn has, with the financial support of MID, been able to secure premises in the heart of Muizenberg and open the long-awaited Muizenberg Service Centre.”

The new centre supports people experiencing homelessness from the immediate area, stretching as far as Kalk Bay, by serving two meals a day and supplying clothing via a voucher system. Twinned with the voucher programme is a voluntary rehabilitation programme that equips people with the skills and support to overcome homelessness, ranging from drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation to work skills.

Residents/visitors can buy U-Turn vouchers from participating retail outlets in Muizenberg, St James and Kalk Bay and give the vouchers directly to people in need or exchange the vouchers for ad-hoc jobs such as car washing.

The U-Turn vouchers enable residents and visitors to give responsibly, but most importantly, directs people experiencing homelessness to a place where they can access the services they need in order to ultimately leave the streets.

Muizeneberg Opens New Service Centre to Assist Homeless Amid Rising COVID-Induced Poverty
Photo Cred: Muizenberg Improvement District

Alternatively, U-Turn vouchers can be purchased online by clicking here. These vouchers are allocated to people arriving at the centre “voucher-less” so as to ensure no person in need is ever turned away.

How U-Turn Works

U-Turn is a registered NGO that has been running rehabilitation programmes in Cape Town since 1997 with a solid track record in equipping people experiencing homelessness with the skills and support needed to overcome their situation.

U-Turn’s phased programme starts with basic needs relief, like the food and clothing available at the Muizenberg Service Centre. It continues on to Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Support, where applicable, and finally culminates in a work-based learnership, called the “Life Change” programme, which lasts an average of 18 months and nurtures an individual’s personal and vocational skills, twinned with a relapse prevention programme.

More than 80% of participants remain employed and sober after graduating from the “Life Change” programme, according to U-Turn.

Muizeneberg Opens New Service Centre to Assist Homeless Amid Rising COVID-Induced Poverty
Photo Cred: Muizenberg Improvement District

U-Turn’s Impact

Since 2009, 80,0000 U-Turn vouchers have been redeemed, and each year around 1,000 people attend a U-turn Service Centre to access basic needs such as food and clothing while also having the opportunity to start a journey to employment. That number is set to grow following the launch of the Muizenberg Service Centre.

Since launching in mid-March, the Muizenberg Service Centre sees up to 20 people a day who are accessing the change-readiness programme.

“It has been a long road to open a centre in Muizenberg with the first request coming from the community in 2018,” said Jon Hopkins, U-turn’s Chief Operating Officer. “Feedback from both the unhoused and housed residents of Muizenberg has been primarily positive to date. People experiencing homelessness within the community are very thankful for this service centre as it gives them an opportunity to leave the streets.”

Corbett added that the new centre marks a turning point in Muizenberg’s ability to more sustainably assist vulnerable people in the area.

“We are confident that with continued support from MID, the local community and visitors, U-Turn will be able to help many more people overcome homelessness.”

Sources: Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha
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