How to help homeless

The Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) works in partnership with the City of Cape Town; provincial government structures and NGOs offering shelter to homeless people.

If you see a homeless person in distress, contact the City’s dedicated call centre for homelessness at 0800 872 201 for assistance.

What you shouldn’t do, says the MID – again and again – is give hand-outs.

“Hand-outs compound dependency and keep the homeless on the street,” says Lesley Schroeder, MID stakeholder engagement director.

“In contrast to vagrants living in the park or at the vlei, the long-term homeless of Muizenberg generally don’t beg – they don’t need to as there are residents who continually bring them food, alcohol, bedding, old clothes and discarded furniture.”

Instead of hand-outs, there are many other ways you can make a difference, Ms Schroeder advises on the MID’s website.

Homeless people need to change their clothes and they need laundry vouchers to wash their blankets. Newly arrived homeless people need lifts to shelters.

The MID finds practical ways to help the homeless to help themselves – simple things like keeping their ID books in a safe place and helping them store their belongings during the day.

Marion Wagner, director of social development for the Muizenberg Improvement District discovered a company called Street Sleeper that manufactures winter survival bags.

With the help of donations from Muizenberg residents and funds allocated from the MID social development budget, 11 homeless people have each been given one of these hardy waterproof survival bags which rolls up into a carry bag.

If you would like to help, you can contact Marion at az.gro.dim@ tnempolevedlaicos or call at 081 425 0685.

* The Echo has compiled this list of organisations that help distressed adults and children.

* Western Cape Street Children’s Forum, visit www.wcsf.co.za or

call 072 450 0456.

* Cape Town Child Welfare Society which protects children in crisis or at risk or visit www.helpkids.org.za, or call 021 685 3942.

* Happy Valley (Simon’s Town)

offer accommodation and food to adults who have lost their homes due to financial pressure or personal tragedy. Emai; cynn@telkomsa.net or call 021 786 5087.

* Lindelani Child and Youth Care Centre is a standardised intake and assessment centre for street children. Visit www.villagecc.co.za or call 021 701 8840.

* Living Hope (Muizenberg)

food and substance abuse recovery programmes. Visit

www.livinghope.co.za/about/communities/muizenberg or call 021 784 2800.

* Ons Plek is a temporary home for runaway girls, fending for themselves on the streets. Email www.onsplek.org.za or call 021 465 4829.

* Somerset West Night Shelter gives hope and dignity for the homeless. Visit swnightshelter.org.za or call 021 851 4984.

* The Haven Night Shelter at Kalk Bay provides temporary shelter, physical care, social welfare and family re-unification services to adult homeless people. Visit www.haven.org.za or call 021 447 7422.

* The Homestead is a transitional residential care, education and therapy facility for street children. Visit thehomestead.org.za or call 021 419 9763.

* U-Turn rehabilitates adult street people and re-integrate them back into society. Visit www.homeless.org.za or call 021 674 6119.

* Waves for Change (Muizenberg)offer surf therapy and support for vulnerable children and young adults growing up in violent communities.

Visit www.waves-for-change.org/ or call 079 302 1531.