George Municipality embraces World Food Day
George Municipality embraced the concept of World Food Day recently by providing 150 homeless persons with a meal. Chronic hunger is a reality, especially among the homeless.
The Municipality that forms part of the People living on the Street (Plots)Forum wanted to do something special for the homeless because of hunger. World Food Day is celebrated across the world on 16 October.
According to Janine Edwards from Social Development at George Municipality, people living on the streets often go for days without food and when food is available, it is not always nutritious. To make the programme successful, the PLOTS Forum received donations of food items and wishes to thank all sponsors involved.
Programmes such as this one to reach out to the homeless, are made possible by the public. George Municipality appeals to Georgians and visitors to become a part of the solution of People living on the Streets by rather giving donations to organisations such as the George Night Shelter or Kidstop, instead of giving money or handouts to adults or children begging at streets intersections, as this has increasingly become a concern.
According to Estelle Fredericks from the Municipality Social Development department, there has been an increase in new arrivals of People living on the streets following the Covid lockdown period and exacerbated by the current economic situation. She said that giving such persons money or handouts on the streets, will only encourage them to keep living on the streets and has negative long-term effects.
The PLOTS (People Living on The Streets) forum was established in 2018 by George Municipality to holistically address the many factors associated with homeless people. The forum includes representatives from George Municipal Social Development Services, the South African Police Service (SAPS), Kid Stop (focuses on children living on the Streets), People Against Substance Abuse (PASA), Smoking & Alcohol Harms Alleviation & Rehabilitation Association (SAHARA), Christian Rehabilitation Ministries to the Homeless of George (Cremhog) and the National Departments of Social Development and Health.
The PLOTS Forum aims to eradicate the issue of homelessness. Night outreaches take place to quantify the number of persons currently living on the streets and these surveys also serve as a tool to identify the needs of the individuals, and to assess how they can be assisted going forward.
George Municipality continues to provide clothing and toiletries to persons living on the street. The toiletries include soap, facecloths, toothpaste, toothbrushes, roll-on and sanitary pads. The municipality maintains a clothing bank where residents of George donate clothing for this purpose. Many of the homeless ask for clothing or toiletries to be presentable and a register is kept for this purpose. It would really assist the Municipality if more residents could donate clothing and toiletries for this purpose as no funding is available for this purpose.
The Municipal Social Development division runs a job seekers programme where we motivate the homeless to seek jobs, even if it is in the informal market. The department assists with the drawing up of CV`s and registering of the homeless on the EPWP database for job opportunities. Through other stakeholders, reunification services are also planned for those individuals who indicate that they want to reunite with their families. The issue of homelessness is a vast challenge and assistance from all spheres is needed to address the issue properly.
Living on the streets is not a crime and therefore these people cannot be arrested or moved without their consent. Our Social Development and Law Enforcement department’s mandate is limited as the bulk of the functions to assist people living on the streets, falls under SAPS and the National Department of Social Development.
George Residents, Business Owners and organisations, who want to help the homeless and or submit innovative ideas on how to help the homeless are invited to join the PLOTS monthly meeting. You can contact Estelle Fredericks on 044 802 2000, ext 2015 during office hours for more information.
The public may also contact these organisations: Freddy Trout, PASA (People Against Substance Abuse) on 068 487 4848, Jonathan Gelderbloem, YFC Kidstop on 044 874 2624/044 875 1794, Department of Social Services on 044 814 1920 or Andre Olivier from Cremhog on email@example.com