It’s a ‘hand-up’, not a handout. Work provides income, routine and structure and dignity, allowing participants to be useful again. It also builds cross-class cross-race contacts.
Cape Town, South Africa – Homeless people are a growing challenge of urban societies and a problem that will increase if no imaginative interventions are made.
People in Cape Town are confronted on a daily basis by an increasing number of people living on the streets. The lack of effective and humane solutions evokes strong feelings as the sight often leaves one not knowing how best to respond.
Streetscapes offer street people caught up in the criminal justice system and with chronic and progressive drug/alcohol addiction a second chance. By creating work opportunities that are rehabilitative and reintegrative, it provides this vulnerable population with a real opportunity to rebuild their lives which reducing crime and grime in the inner city.
“It’s a ‘hand-up’, not a handout. Work provides income, routine and structure and dignity, allowing participants to be useful again. Streetscapes also builds cross-class cross-race contacts. These social networks are proven a necessity for those navigating their lives out of poverty. Over time – and at their own pace – the beneficiaries learn to replace destructive thinking and behaviour habits with healthier ones; to make better choices leads to managing one’s life better.”
Success is measured by improved functioning as our beneficiaries start to reconnect with their own value in their lives, in their family relationships as well as in society. What we witness is drastically improved mental states, reduction in the use of substances, starting to look after one’s health and importantly, moving off the streets. Seeing our clients reconnect with their families and starting to contribute financially in their children’s or parents’ lives makes us proud.
And society rejoices when someone who has been a cost to the taxpayer has now become a taxpayer! The burden of the cost of arrests, court hearing, nights in holding cells or awaiting trial in Pollsmoor Prison as well as a reduced number of emergency room visits at hospitals are all public savings.
In contrast to normal perceptions, we have found street people to be highly motivated to build and rebuild their lives. Daily attendance is over 90%, and we witness a significant reduction of substance misuse in the first three months. In the past 12 months amongst our group, the number living on the streets dropped from 91% to 13%.
“The project is based on partnerships. Our key partners are the Provincial Department of Social Development, City of Cape Town, Central City Improvement District, The Carpenters Shop, Service Dining Rooms, TB/HIV Care, University of Cape Town and a number of resident associations, NPOs and volunteers. Additionally, the produce from urban gardens gets sold to restaurants and markets in the city as well as the residents.”
In 2017 – 2018 year Streetscapes assisted a total of 40 beneficiaries, 33 who joined the programme and 7 who continued from the year before:
- 15% dropout rate
- 10% could move onto a better opportunity
- 84% attendance rate
- Homelessness dropped from 91% to 13%
- Significant reduction in arrests, 11 in total; 3 sentenced for 3 months, 8 cases were dropped
- Group providing financial support for additional 23 indirect beneficiaries (family members)
Watch a shhort video about the project below: