Help is available this festive season | Western Cape Government


Help is available this festive season

21 December 2020

While the festive season is usually a time for family gatherings and celebrations, this period also brings with it distress for many, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and its recent resurgence.

Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez reminds residents that while the department will be running on skeleton staff, the local offices will remain open and that social workers will be available to assist with emergency statutory services which include victim empowerment services, children at high risk, child justice and probation services.

“We know that this period will be very tough for many individuals and families. Help is available, and can be accessed by connecting with your nearest DSD office. I also wish to thank all of the DSD and Non-Profit Organisation frontline workers, who will forego time with their own families, to ensure that service delivery continues throughout December and January.

“Let’s all help protect all of our frontline workers and vulnerable citizens by always masking up every time we leave home, washing our hands regularly, avoiding crowded places, and keeping gatherings small and preferably in the open air,” said Minister Fernandez.

Victim Empowerment Services

The Department has written to all of its funded partners in the field of victim empowerment services to ensure that staff will be on standby. As part of the Covid-19 safety protocols, each shelter has made provision for an isolation room for new intakes. The Department currently funds 19 NPOs that specialise in the delivery of shelter services to victims of crime and violence. Six more shelters are expected to be operational next year.

Child Protection Services

We urge everyone to look out for children, and if abuse is suspected, this must be reported. A report can be logged with a DSD local office, designated child protection organisation, the police, or with a health care practitioner. All Child and Youth Care Centres remain operational, so that in the event at-risk children need to be removed from their homes by social workers, they will be placed in temporary places of safety at either CYCCs or with safety or foster parents.

The Eye-On-The-Child programme, particularly in the rural areas, enables community volunteers respond effectively to children made vulnerable by abuse and neglect. They have received training on the use of referral systems that are in place. Drop-in centres, which operate as one-stop shops for children in need of care and protection, remain operational during this period.

Substance Abuse Services

People in need of assistance can approach their nearest DSD local offices where an assessment will be conducted, and the appropriate course of action will be developed. Psychosocial support services can also be accessed from local offices.

Residential Facilities

Both Old Age Homes, and Homes for People with Disabilities are following strict Covid-19 protocols, due to their residents being at very high risk for developing severe symptoms. It is advisable that those who wish to visit residents, contact the home ahead of time to enquire about visiting arrangements.

Anyone who suspects elder abuse should report this to the Age-in-Action toll free number on 0800 333 231.

NPO Helpdesk

The physical helpdesk situated at 7 Wale Street, Cape Town will be closed from 21 December 2020 – 4 January 2021. However, the team will be available online to assist. NPOs can email their queries to during that period.


  • National Women’s Shelter Movement: 0800 001 005 (24 hours)
  • Gender-Based Violence Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (24 hours)
  • Department of Social Development toll free number: 0800 220 250 (Monday – Friday, 7:30am – 4pm). On public holidays and after-hours, the callers will be directed to the relevant numbers.
  • Police: 10111
  • Childline: 0800055555 or 116
  • Age-in-Action: 0800 333 231
  • South African National Human Trafficking Hotline: 0800 222 777