World Homeless Day: Minister Fernandez urges public to Give Responsibly
The Inaugural World Homeless Day was marked on the 10th of October 2010. Since its founding, World Homeless Day has been observed on every continent except Antarctica, in several dozen countries.
In recognition of supporting homeless individuals and families, Minister Fernandez noted that “The homeless are human beings, like every other person who lives on the planet. The vast majority of people who find themselves living on the streets do not do so out of choice. The are many reasons as to why one might find themselves being homeless such as becoming unemployed, serious medical conditions, dealing with an ongoing substance use disorder (SUD), or the inability to keep up to date with rental agreements.”
In light of tomorrow, 10 October 2020 being World Homeless Day, the Western Cape Minister for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, would like to urge the public to give responsibly with regards to donating money, food, clothes, toys, bedding, etc. to registered Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who work specifically with the homeless people in our towns and cities across the Province.
Minister Fernandez added, “Generally speaking, those who find themselves homeless are individuals who have had bad things happen in their lives or made bad choices. Anyone can find themselves in such a situation.
In addition to feeding and housing homeless people, we need to let this vulnerable grouping know that they are valued. In this regard, we all need to commit to preserving their dignity and treating homeless individuals with respect at all times.”
Regarding those people who reside on the streets, many individuals find themselves briefly living on the streets while others may have found themselves destitute for many years. This population commonly refers to those individuals who have no access to a roof or shelter, live and sleep on the streets for several reasons, and have done so for any given period.
The provincial Department of Social Development assists homeless individuals and families by providing funding (albeit to various degrees) to NGOs that work directly to get people off the streets and to empower them with skills-training, uniting them back with their families and integrating them into our communities.
The Department currently funds 26 Shelters that assist homeless citizens across our Province. The support provided by Departments amounts to funding 1499 bed spaces.
Throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has continued to communicate with the various facilities around proper hygiene, physical distancing and infectious disease protocols. In instances where homeless individuals require specialized healthcare, individuals will be referred to health facilities if and when necessary.
The shelters render critical social work services aimed at reuniting homeless adults with their families. The department is also working with NGO’s, to provide extra mattresses, food, and care packs to the poor. The beneficiaries who make use of the shelter services have access to other services rendered by the DSD. Where possible, shelters also assist beneficiaries to access medical services and ID documentation applications.
During the 2019/20 financial year saw our department reunify 700 people with their families. The Department has also been calling for proposals for shelters to apply for funding and has been increasing the number of bed spaces and the amount of money allocated to shelters for homeless adults.
In collaboration with the Shelters for homeless individuals, the Department has developed Norms and Standards for shelters. The Department has allocated 22 Social Workers, 3 Social Auxiliary Workers and 1 Social Supervisor to currently funded Shelters. The Department is also ensuring that psycho-social services are available for support and reunifying homeless individuals with their respective families.
The public is encouraged to get involved through volunteering or donating to registered NGOs operating in the province. Information on registered NGOs can be obtained by visiting any of our regional and local offices, or by contacting our DSD hotline 0800 220 250.
“We all share a concern for the ongoing pandemic plaguing our society. However, all hope is not lost when we all work together! As a Department, we are cognizant of the need to improve this critical situation and all efforts will continue to be directed at restoring the hope and dignity of all the people who we serve,” concluded Minister Fernandez.