A home from home for the young

Felicity Purchase, Brian Purchert and Fran Spencer Smith.

Twenty years ago, Fran Spencer-Smith, the mother of an intellectually disabled son had a dream – to found a home for young intellectually disabled people – in the Far South of Cape Town.

This home would give them a place of purpose and belonging, a place that would meet their specific needs – a home from home.

The path has not been an easy one, says Anchors Away Village chairman, Brian Puchert.

“The government does not provide funding for projects such as this. After years of highs and lows, fundraising and lobbying, promises and assistance offered then withdrawn, (the home) finally had sufficient money saved to purchase the land on which to build the envisioned home.”

The home is now situated at 25 Glenalpine Road, Welcome Glen, in Simon’s Town.

Over the years, challenges continued, Mr Puchert said.

Problems encountered were not only financial but also objections to such a home were received from people in the community who were unaware of how moderately intellectually disabled young people behave.

“Thanks to the support and co-operation from officials from Cape Town Municipal Planning and Management, and the Sub-council of the South Peninsula, we were able to achieve our goal. We have been assisted by an incredible benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous and many others, and to them all we offer our heartfelt thanks,” said Ms Spencer-Smith.

Fran and her team have reason to be jubilant.

ln June 2015, seven years after acquiring the Welcome Glen property, the first residents moved in to the Anchors Away Village home.

The residents attend the Joyce Chevalier workshop in Fish Hoek daily from Monday to Friday, after which they return to their home in Welcome Glen.

At this stage the residents spend every weekend with their families.

Fran says the home is run by a wonderful, cheerful and caring house mother.

Each resident has their own bedroom – furnished by their parents.

There is a large TV in the lounge but some residents have their own in their rooms as well.

There is a well-equipped games room with pool table, exercise bikes and masses of games and puzzles.

The vegetable garden is productive, and residents are encouraged to collect fresh produce from the garden when necessary.

And there are currently two vacancies for suitable applicants.

While the opening of the home is an important milestone in the realisation of this project, it is only the beginning.

The costs of running such a home are high, and donations to Anchors Away Village, registered as a non-profit organisation with the Department of Social Development and a public benefit organisation registered with the South African Revenue Services (SARS), are always welcome, and are tax deductable.

“We thank the many people who have supported our fundraising events over the years,” said Ms Spencer-Smit, “and trust that we will continue to get support.”

Contact Fran if you want to help Anchors Away in whatever way you can. Call her on 021 786 1321 or email fran.spencersmith@gmail.com