Homeless meet to get back on their feet

The Fish Hoek homeless group from left are, John Bradley, Jean Beukes, Jill Atkins, Marc Benet, Richard Julian Jones, Michael Thomas and Johann Lotter.

A group of homeless men and women in Fish Hoek want to regain their independence by finding suitable long-term accommodation and employment for themselves and other homeless people in the area.

Known as the Fish Hoek Homeless Group, they meet in the library once a week to find ways to get people back on their feet and off the streets.

Vice chairman John Bradley, 66, said he had been homeless for four years and it was not easy.

He was a senior manager with an international company and after being retrenched in 2012, “fell on hard times”.

Shelters, he said, were not an option for many homeless people as they did not provide long-term accommodation for people older than 60, so sleeping on the street was the only option for them.

He said they were not beggars and relied on soup kitchens twice a week, occasional tinned food from
various churches and food parcels from the Community Church in Kalk Bay which has a service for the homeless on Sundays.

Many in the group sleep at the entrances to the traffic department and the community hall while others sleep near the fire station.

“We have skills, we are healthy, we have strong minds, and we are willing to work, but most people are reluctant to employ us,” he said.

Group secretary Jean Beukes said a weekly crafters group taught women how to make things to sell, but there was no such skills-training group for men in Fish Hoek.

Ms Beukes said they faced many challenges daily, but finding long-term accommodation could solve many problems, such as giving proof of address to open a bank account.

Johann Lotter said he just wanted a place where he could clean up and keep his possessions so they didn’t get stolen.

Jill Atkins said a friend of hers in Parow had started making ornaments from wood, which he sold, but to do that you needed a safe place to store your tools.

Hassan Khan, CEO of The Haven Night Shelter Welfare Organisation, said although The Haven does accommodate people over 60 it helped to get the homeless back to a home, family and community.

“We manage a diverse group of individuals with social, emotional
and other difficulties, and if you are in need of permanent accommodation, The Haven is not for you,” he said.

He added that where necessary, The Haven will help people access an old age home such as The Haven’s old age home in Woodstock.

For more information on the Fish Hoek homeless group or if you are able to assist, call Mr Bradley at 066 229 1774 or Ms Beukes at 081 308 7192.