MEC Fritz visits gap-bridging Beth Uriel
Today, the Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, celebrated National Children’s Day, which takes place annually on 3 November, by visiting the Beth Uriel House of Light in Salt River.
Beth Uriel is a “transition to independent living” program that works with young boys from previously disadvantaged communities between the ages of 18 and 24. Organisations such as Beth Uriel support young boys caught in a gap, as they are abandoned by care systems once they turn 18, but yet have limited opportunities due to a lack of skills and education.
Beth Uriel is a 26 bed facility committed to long term care. It supports youth while they study at both the secondary and tertiary level. Many of the boys stay at the home for 5 to 6 years, ensuring a greater level of educational success and personal growth. In 2015 alone, 7 of the 26 boys matriculated, with 6 going on to study further. Without Beth Uriel’s educational support most learners would have left school in grade 10.
On site, the boys have access to a quiet learning area and computers which they can use to research and study. The boys can also learn woodwork and how to become baristas to create an income. Other boys work for Beth Uriel as support staff or even as the local barber, while studying.
Nearly 50% of Beth Uriel’s intake is done in partnership with children’s homes to prevent boys living on the street once they turn 18 and leave care. The other 50% come from community based referrals often with an emphasis on “diversion” which aims to keep the boys out of troublesome activities.
MEC Fritz said, “It was incredibly heart-warming to hear of some of the stories of the boys at Beth Uriel. Each has chosen to be there, to improve their lot in life and to not let their circumstances define them. They have chosen education and personal growth, over gangs and drugs. That’s all you could ask for any young person growing up in our province and country.”
MEC Fritz further added, “I have asked that the Director contact me directly if any of his boys have an interest in public administration, as their upliftment is the reason the EPWP program exists.”
The Minister of Social Development in the Western Cape remains committed to the upliftment of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds and will work to ensure that no young person is left behind.
Attention broadcasters: please see English audio clip below