For the first time since it opened its doors in 1988, Ons Plek is faced with the situation of closing their doors… luckily the community have stepped in to help!
Western Cape, South Africa (01 September 2020) – Cape Town’s first and only shelter and care organisation for girls living on the street and being at risk of such an existence has found itself in an extremely difficult position.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the anticipated funding from sports events and other fundraisers won’t be coming through this year, resulting in a 20% budget shortfall. Severe downscaling of preventative and remedial interventions is on the cards, leaving dozens of girl street children in limbo.
It is for the first time since it opened its doors in 1988 that Ons Plek is faced with the situation it is facing. The organisation, which has residential shelters for 80 girls aged 0-18 who used to live on the street or are at risk of ending up on the street, is short of R800,000. That equals 20% of the budget it needs to operate.
“Besides cancelled sports events and other key fundraiser initiatives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, some donors have closed down whilst others have redirected their funding to Covid-19 specific initiatives,” says director Pam Jackson, who has been involved with the organisation for over 30 years.
She notes that over the past three decades years, Ons Plek has always been financially stable and sustainable.
“This is because we are successful in what we do. Over time, our interventions – both preventative and remedial – have helped reduce the number of girl street children in Cape Town to almost zero,” Jackson explains.
“It is also important to note this achievement is thanks to access to a sustained inflow of funding.”
Of the R800,000 needed between now and March 2021, the end of the current financial year, Ons Plek intends to raise R250,000 in the short run.
“This will allow us to feed, educate, care for, empower, and counsel the girls in our shelters as we have always done, whilst making a plan and carrying on with our interventions to prevent others from ending up on the street,” she explains, noting staff salaries are a key priority.
“Without our teachers, social workers, child workers, and trauma counsellors, who are all fundamentally important to girls’ well-being, we are nowhere.
Downscaling, and in a worst-case scenario closing down, won’t just have implications for the 80 girls living in its shelters.
“It is also threatening our long-standing and very successful strategies to prevent girls from ending up on the street, including our Ukondla initiative,” Jackson says, explaining this project focuses on children from Philippi who are at risk of dropping out of school or running away from home.
“Working at three centres, we provide them and their families with targeted counselling to resolve any issues whilst assisting children with their homework, organising after-school activities, and keeping learners busy during school holidays.”
Fortunately, Ons Plek has received help. Gift of the Givers has come on board and will provide one month’s worth of food supplies, toiletries and other necessities, which it will hand over this week. In the meantime, a group of six friends – all professional women from CapeTown – have formed an Action Committee to help solve the funding issue through a Backabuddy crowdfunding campaign, social media and marketing assistance, and the hosting of virtual fundraising quizzes.
The group is also spending its time reaching out to various stakeholders to help Ons Plek with monetary and practical necessities.
“I have volunteered at Ons Plek by teaching English at their bridging school for the last three years. It is a wonderful organisation that provides a loving and stable home for girls who are beyond vulnerable,” says Jacqui Wigg, who mobilised the group.
“To think these girls could lose all of that due to something as simple as money is incomprehensible. We all have different skills and contacts that, when bundled, can hopefully make a lasting difference.”