13 May 2020
George Municipality’s Social Development formidable team working ‘miracles’
Press Release: Issued George Municipality, 11 May
Heading: George Municipality’s Social Development formidable team working ‘miracles’
Soupkitchen staff2: The George Municipal Social Development staff who keep the soup kitchens going and who were instrumental in setting up the temporary homeless shelter at Rosemore Stadium.
letter: The letter (in Afrikaans) undersigned by the homeless people at Rosemoor stadium was written by the residents of the shelter to show their gratitude towards the social development officials. Roughly translated they say, “ the shelter and comfort made them realise it is not that difficult to get a job, that they can live healthier lives, that they can have trustworthy friendships, that they can read and even practice a religion and regain their self-worth.” Note: Signatures have been removed for privacy
Dedication and commitment is the cornerstone of the small, but extremely committed and hardworking team of 12 officials from the Social Development section for George Municipality, who do an incredible job collecting soup products for our 137 municipal soup kitchens, and who were instrumental in setting up the temporary homeless shelter located at Rosemoor stadium at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown period. According to Ms Sophia Fanelo, Manager: Social Development at the Municipality, they work with a team of not more than 9 to 12 members per week and have 3 staff members on standby over weekends to monitor the soup kitchens and the temporary homeless shelter at the stadium.
“We currently supply 137 Municipal soup kitchens with ingredients. The kitchens are scattered all over the greater George area: Blanco, Pacaltsdorp, Thembalethu, Borcherds, Parkdene, Rosemoor, Conville, Avontuur, Herold, Noll, Kamanassie, Ganzekraal, Snyberg, Warmbad, Meulrivier, Uniondale, Haarlem, Waboomskraal, Touwsranten, Kleinkrantz, Lancewood, Wilderness Heights and Syferfontein. “We have had more and more people coming to the soup kitchens for food and subsequently the soup kitchens have had to provide 2 meals per day, 7 days a week. Before the lockdown the soup kitchens usually provided one meal, 3 times per week - only to children and elderly people. Now the kitchens provide for more than 20 000 people daily,” Fanelo said.
The municipality also assists 13 private kitchens in George that have been opened by churches and other organisations, if the Donation Centre foodbank has perishables left over. The churches and organisations provide food for more than 300 people per day. They have their own sponsors, and the municipality provides them with soup products. “These organisations use their own gas and electricity. Some of the private food providers, also assist our existing kitchens in the rural areas, to meet the nutritional needs of our communities. We take the hands of the community and the other way around, as we cannot tackle the need all on our own,” Fanelo said.
Rosemore Stadium currently shelters 53 persons of the original 81 at the start of Lockdown. In only one of the few heart-warming letters the people in the shelter wrote to the social development section to portray their gratitude, they say that the shelter and comfort made them realise “it is not that difficult to get a job, they can live healthier lives, that they can have trustworthy friendships, that they can read and even practice a religion and regain their self-worth. The Provincial Department of Social Development has appointed a service provider to prepare three meals a day for the shelter residents and the Municipality supplies toiletries and cleaning materials to them.
A doctor visits the people at the shelter twice per week, for medical check-ups while the municipality staff also make sure they honour their clinic and doctor’s appointments and collect their social grants. They play games and even organise their own modelling shows just to make the lockdown more bearable. One of the success stories is that of a family of three adults, who went home to their family living on a farm. Fanelo said two young men had decided to go back to their families living in Denneoord, after they were able to turn their lives around during the lockdown period. As per the doctor’s report, most of the people living on the streets that were heavy drug users, have successfully stopped using and regained their health.
Fanelo says her section is starting with training soon on how to do addiction counselling. “The improvement in the people living on the streets is visible. We aim every day to reunite them with their families, or provide them with some kind of solution, like helping them find a job. Most of them would not want to live on the streets if they had a better option,” Fanelo said.Last published 13 May 2020