DSD offers a basket of services to mitigate COVID-19 social challenges
The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) has remained steadfast in promoting social inclusion, reducing poverty and tackling many of the social ills present in the Western Cape in order to fully respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and related disaster management regulations.
To date, the provincial department of Social Development has spent R600 million on sustaining the basket of services being provided to the residents of the province during this period, as well as an additional R35 million specifically re-allocated for food relief.
Services sustained by the department during this time include the provision of humanitarian relief, services for older person, shelters for victims of abuse, psycho-social services, child protection services, and services for people living with disabilities.
1: The Provision of Humanitarian Relief:
In response to the COVID 19 lockdown, the Western Cape Government established a humanitarian relief workstream to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts in the province.
This workstream, led by Provincial Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, comprises representatives from various provincial departments, municipalities, SASSA, and the Solidarity Fund, and reports into a provincial council established as per the COGTA Disaster Management regulations.
The workstream reported that over 130 000 food parcels (each food parcels feeds a household of 4 to 5 people), and nearly 200 000 daily cooked meals have been provided to beneficiaries in the province by a combination of civil society organisations, faith based organisations, private donors, SASSA, the Solidarity Fund, the Provincial and National Departments of Social Development, the Western Cape Education Department, municipalities and businesses.
In total, the Provincial Government has allocated over R70m to food relief during this period.
2: Services for Older Persons:
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the lives and livelihoods of people in many drastic ways. In many countries, older people are facing high levels of risk and challenges.
Minister Fernandez said, “Although all age-groups are at risk of contracting COVID-19, older people face a significant risk of developing severe illness if they contract the disease due to physiological changes that come with ageing and potential underlying health conditions.”
In response to the challenges that COVID-19 poses for old persons, the department has offered the following support to old age homes during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Protocols have been put in place between the provincial DSD and the Department of Health with regards to referrals of COVID-19 outbreaks at old age homes (NOTE: Health department do screening and testing on-site at home with staff and residence - see link for more information Guidelines for Long Term Care Facilities and Covid19).
An additional R 1.755 million has been made available for old age homes for the management of COVID19, over and above existing allocations.
15 000 masks and 50 litres of sanitizers have been distributed to old age homes across the province.
Additional relief staff are provided where and when needed.
Specialised training for carers.
Facilitated the deployment of volunteers to deep-clean old age homes – with a focus on homes in vulnerable communities and hotspot areas.
Sanitizers and face shields have been distributed to 117 old age homes (5000 face shields provided to 117 old age homes).
3: Shelters for Victims of Abuse:
The provincial DSD continued to provide support for victims of abuse during the lockdown. We have also continued to offer trauma counselling services for women and children, aimed at treating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional blunting and desensitisation to violence.
As of the 21st of April 2020, 320 beds at shelters were filled with victims of crime including gender-based violence.
Through the department’s Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP), we rendered services to victims of crime and violence, through the provision of shelter services and psychosocial support.
Four shelters have been identified as Stage 1 shelters to admit at-risk victims of crime and violence. This will happen following a referral from a social worker with safety risk assessment, or a SAPS referral.
After the initial 14 days, clients will be transferred from a Stage 1 shelter to a Stage 2 shelter with the assistance of SAPS.
Stage 2 shelter accommodation
After the initial 14 days, victims will be transferred to a stage 2 shelter.
Stage 2 shelters may not admit new intakes directly except new victims who are referred by stage 1 shelters and have completed their 14-day stay.
The Provincial Department of Health assists with medical screening and medical needs of victims.
Funded Social Service organisations
All social workers of funded social service organisations are on stand-by to provide psychosocial support services to victims of crime and violence.
Psychosocial support continues at Thuthuzela Care Centres.
4: Psycho-social services:
In response to the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘Hard-Lockdown”, the department worked closely with its NPO funded partners, to render psycho-social support to families and individual in need.
Minister Fernandez said, “As the virus infection spreads, the anxiety and stigma associated with it also increases. Consequently, the department used awareness programmes that integrated with psycho-social interventions, to help not only the infected but also their family and other vulnerable communities.”
During the COVID-19 Lockdown, the department provided funding to over 1000 social workers in the NPO sector in the Western Cape. We would also like to remind the public that If anyone requires a social worker or any form of psycho-social support, please contact us on our hotline number on 0800 220 250 to be connected to your nearest local office.
5: Child Protection Services:
Essential child protection services to protect the safety and well-being of children continued to be of paramount importance during this unprecedented time.
The total budget of the provincial department of Social Development( DSD) utilised for the protection of children in 2019/20 was R228 million.
Minister Fernandez said, “Whilst, we continued to reiterate that parents/families play a key role in the protection of their children, our departments continued to work closely with designated child protection organisations and service partners to assess risks and ensure that children at immediate risk were protected.”
Moreover, community-based organisations (CBOs) also helped play a key role in assisting communities and caregivers to find effective ways of mitigating the increased risk of child abuse at this time.
6: People living with disabilities:
During the COVID-19 lockdown, we continued to provide support to the homes that care, and provide services for people living with disabilities. Although, day-care centre for the disabled persons and ECD remained closed, we continued to provide these facilities with funding. Funding was used for the salaries of their staff and 70% of the ECD used the funding to feed over 50 000 vulnerable children across the province.
Psychosocial support is also rendered on request by DSD local offices or funded NGOs specializing in support to people with disabilities. Various food provision activities by private sector and NGOs were facilitated to support people with disabilities.
We urge the public to access credible information on https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/coronavirus
For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department’s Website below:
Joshua Covenant Chigome
Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez
Tel: 021 483 9217
Cell: 083 661 4949
Private Bag X9112, Cape Town, 8000
14 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, 8001
Direct Tel: (+27) 21 483 9217
Fax: 086 641 0955