Photo Credit: Supplied

Behind Durbanville’s new Safe Space in Cape Town is an incredible organisation who are working hard to relieve poverty in urban South Africa with a ‘hope model’ that gives the homeless a sustainable way to get back into society!


Durbanville, South Africa (08 April 2024) — Last week, a ribbon was cut on a lifeline opportunity for Durbanville’s homeless; a new shelter space that offers a hopeful space from life on the street, and the beginning of their journey back to healthy societal integration!

The new Safe Space shelter attracted a lot of love and applause from the public, especially as homelessness in Durbanville and its surrounds continues to increase. But, this initiative did not happen without a lot of work behind the scenes, and a dream to enact positive change in urban South Africa.

A non-profit company and Christian social development organisation, Mould Empower Serve (MES), were a huge driving force in making Durbanville’s newest Safe Space a reality. And without MES’s push to get things going as soon as possible, the shelter might not have opened until 2027.

“The growing concern regarding the number of homeless people living in Durbanville—without access to alternative accommodation nearby—was the main driver to obtain the urgent lease for our Safe Space. MES chose not to wait for a tender to be drafted, budgeted and advertised. If Durbanville’s Safe Space had to follow the normal Tender and Supply Chain Management route, MES would likely only have been able to open a safe space in this area in 2027,” says MES. 

After receiving all the Occupational Certificates and help from the City of Cape Town, it was all systems go!

With a decades-long journey of helping create sustainable solutions to pervasive poverty in South Africa (from Joburg to the Eastern Cape) MES knows a thing or two about what it takes to help the most vulnerable people.

In Durbanville specifically, the organisation has been key in helping serving the homeless in Queen Street where at the MES Durbanville Homeless Support Centre, they have provided over 6500 meals, assisted 40 people with ID applications and assessed 157 beneficiaries as 151 change-readiness workshops were hosted for over 1500 attendees on their path back to society.

Taking their experience of uplifting the homeless into the fold and teaming up with the City of Cape Town, Durbanville’s new Safe Space is considered a flagship model that can further “successful rehabilitation programmes,” as Leona Pienaar, MES CEO shares.

How and Why the Safe Space Works

The Safe Space works by putting the homeless (who are willing to make use of the life-changing resources available there) into positions where they are guided through societal reintegration.

“The MES Durbanville Safe space is designed to aid in reintegrating those committed to positive change, supporting 30 beneficiaries monthly through a multi-phased programme that reinforces personal development and eventual sustainable re-entry into the community. With space for 16 males and 14 females, preference is given to participants in MES’s Change and Work Readiness Programmes,” the organisation says.

Leona shares:

“Establishing the MES Durbanville Safe Space marks a critical milestone, effectively doubling the available shelter beds in surrounding areas. In light of studies revealing extensive cash handouts exacerbating drug addiction and hampering rehabilitation, the MES Durbanville Safe Space and accompanying programmes present a sustainable alternative that fosters genuine social rehabilitation.”

However, the next obstacle for MES is facilitating operating costs.

“MES is actively pursuing financial backing from public donations, businesses, churches, foundations and the City of Cape Town’s Winter Readiness programme to maintain the facility’s crucial services,” MES notes. 

Beyond a call to make Durbanville’s new life line a sustainable success, MES also urges the larger public to support Responsible Giving by handing out Mi-change vouchers instead of cash to those who look in need.

Sources: Supplied; MES 
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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