A pastor and businessman who introduced an innovative bartering system for those who live on the streets of Somerset West is literally creating a new economy… creating jobs and changing lives!
Andy Loughton, 54, who owns a restaurant and bakery started an empowering innovative bartering system for those who live on the streets of Somerset West through an organisation called The Helderberg Street Peoples Centre (HSPC).
“The HSPC is a non profit organisation that gives hope to people by making a difference in their lives.”
“Our purpose is to bring hope and relief by offering essential services through ‘dignity programs’ focusing on renewal and restoration. The vision going forward is to create opportunities for “street people” to embrace for themselves their own dignity, self worth and circumstances. Our holistic approach encourages the body mind and spirit encouraging growth in the whole person.”
“We don’t have a food crisis in this country but rather a chronic shortage of opportunities available to street people”
The original idea was simple: A big municipal bag of litter buys a hot meal. Five bags equal a blanket to keep the wind and rain out.
The idea began when Loughton organised a street clean-up a year ago in exchange for a boerewors roll and a cooldrink. A hundred bags of junk were collected in two hours.
But a year later and the simple idea has changed into an incredible initiative!
Since launching the original idea, the HSPC have created a work for tokens program where various projects in-house and around Somerset West can be done daily and paid in tokens.
Tokens are also earned by daily participation in group study, skills development, discussions and therapy sessions.
“We are involved with work based initiatives in the Helderberg, that are focussing on providing work and activities which always seems to be out of the reach of the person living on the streets.”
“We are in favour of the help up rather than the hand out attitude”
“Hand outs sustain the existence of “street people” creating dependency, never offering to break the cycle or making a meaningful opportunity for positive change or progress.”
They are currently partnering with the Somerset West Village garden where a converted neglected City park is being used to grow vegetables, which are for sale to the community and also used at the HSPC to feed street people.
This affords street people the opportunity to work and learn the habit, commitment and need for discipline of daily routine required to regenerate and transform.
“Tokens have no commercial value other than a value of exchange at the HSPC and it is changing lives!”
“Evolving from a “soup kitchen” mentality to a “opportunity” based centre we have partnered with a food garden, introduced a work for token programs, provided hot showers, clothing racks, social worker access, id books and even managing to find and secure jobs for street people.”
“Dignity is being earned and differences are made.”
“Next will be a centre to overnight for 200 people. The new centre will incorporate education and skills development.”
The organisation have had a number of street people move onto real “paying” job opportunities once stability is achieved.
Loughton felt the process was a way to bring dignity and self-respect to those on the street, and an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
“We are committed to making a difference that becomes meaningful, gives hope and offers “street people” opportunities for their futures. Over time we are expectant of further positive results as our vision unfolds.”
“So much of our success has been attributed to the post on Good Things Guy last year. We cannot thank you and the community enough”
For more info, visit the HSPC Facebook Page or Andy Loughton can be reached at 0717274230