Giving street people a boost

Social auxiliary worker, Tazneem Fielies with Suraya Lewis. Suraya thanked Tasneem with a bunch of flowers for helping her change her life.

A group of street people who participated in the Simon’s Town Community Police Forum (CPF) street people programme provided updates on the progress they have made in the past year.

The programme aims to get street people back on their feet and reintegrate them into society. The CPF has been working on the initiative with the City of Cape Town, law enforcement, Happy Valley Shelter, SAPS and the Department of Social Development since December last year (“Helping homeless thrive,” False Bay Echo, May 24).

Ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock assured the group the programme and the weekly workshops, would continue in the next financial year.

He said since the implementation of the pink vest programme, through which street people were trained to be parking attendants, there had been a significant drop in crime, especially ATM crimes.

He said although wary of the programme in its early days, he is now convinced of its effectiveness and pleased with the results in the past year and encouraged stakeholders to continue to work together.

“You have all worked hard to reach your goals and you must continue to do so,” he said.

The objective of the workshops is to facilitate a process for the street people to start thinking differently and to build resilience.

Reintegration officer, Juliana Rogers explained that the life-skills workshops were conducted every Wednesday for an hour and about eight to 15 street people attended the workshops.

She said most of the people who attended were part of the pink vest initiative.

During these workshops, participants were given the opportunity to draw or write about topics such as childhood memories, proudest moments and regrets.

Ms Rogers said the outcome of the workshops were positive and indicated that the participants were fully committed to the process.

The City’s Social and Early Childhood Development area supervisor, Lezaan Strauss explained the different roles of field officers and integration officers in the programme.

She said field officers were responsible for outreach work in their demarcated areas and responding to complaints. They are also responsible for screening, data collection and offering social assistance to street people while the reintegration officer is responsible for case management.

She explained that once a street person had accepted social assistance, he or she was then relocated to a shelter temporarily while the reintegration officer established if the person should be reunited with their family or not and if they were in need of health or mental health services, or substance abuse interventions.

Last year Mr Liell-Cock allocated funds for the project which enabled the services of field and social workers to work closely with the street people.

A team of six field workers who are part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) have been working closely with social workers, tackling challenges such as people displaying aggressive behaviour when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, refusal to go to shelters and criminal activities which make it difficult for the social and field workers to enter certain areas without law enforcement.

But despite their difficulties, they have managed to make a difference in many street people’s lives.

Theodore Petersen said he came to Simon’s Town four years ago and was a “full blown” drug addict. He said with the help of the street people programme he was placed in Happy Valley Shelter and joined the pink vest project.

“It has given me my dignity back,” he said.

He encouraged other street people to join the programme and to change their lives.

“There are so many opportunities out there and all you have to do is grab it,” he said.

Suraya Lewis, who performed a song, said the programme had changed her life.

To thank social auxiliary worker, Tasneem Fielies, Suraya presented her with a bunch of roses.

For more information about the programme or to make a donation, email Ms Heywood at