Project turns homeless men into security guards

Fifteen homeless men from The Haven Night Shelter have been training at the Rotary Camp in Glencairn to become security guards.

Fifteen homeless men who were part of a pilot project by The Haven Night Shelter to train as security guards graduated on Saturday.

Their training started on Sunday January 7 at the Rotary Camp in Glencairn.

In December last year, the organisation partnered with two security companies to provide basic security training to men from The Haven’s Kalk Bay, Retreat, and Napier shelters.

The men were deployed with trained security officers from one of the security companies to patrol Fish Hoek CBD during the festive season (“Pilot project secures work for homeless,” Echo, January 11).

Following a stint in Fish Hoek, another security company offered Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA)-grade training, firearm training and basic life-support training to the men.

The Rotary Camp hall erupted in applause as the men marched in to receive their custom-made trophies and certificates.

Ralton Fillies, 53, from the Kalk Bay shelter, said he had been homeless for four years and had been addicted to mandrax, tik, and heroin for 37 years and had now been clean for more than a year.

“I’m excited about the future and feel proud of myself, and it didn’t happen overnight. You have to endure and trust the process and you will see the rewards,” he said.

He has been employed by a Noordhoek convenience store.

Jarod Klaas, 26, from the Napier shelter, received the award for “best firearms student” and scored 100% in every category.

The firearms training had been the hardest part of the training, but he had improved with mentorship from security company boss Giovanni Rossi, he said.

“It involved a lot of learning as we had to know the legal aspect of firearms, how they work, and then range training,” he said.

He has been employed by a security company in Claremont.

“This course taught me that I have a lot of potential and that I should not devalue myself because I am capable of great things.”

Max Egan-Fowler, 25, of the Kalk Bay shelter, received the “top student” award and said his circumstances before he joined the programme had motivated him not to give up.

“Some days were difficult, and I wanted to give up, but I persevered, and I’m proud of myself. I neglected myself, but this course has taught me that I have a lot to offer, and it helped me work on my self-progress, look at my morals, personal hygiene, and self-respect.

“Don’t pity yourself, and let go of the past. You can’t build a foundation and look at the future if you are still clinging to the past.”

He has had interviews with two potential employers.

Instructor Liam Eley-Weyers said the men had started slowly and had then gained momentum and finished “very strong” with the most difficult part of the training getting them to march in a straight line.

Mr Rossi said men had come so far and he was proud of their achievements.

The Haven Night Shelter CEO Shaddie Valaydum said the programme, where clients had been taken from the shelter, trained, and placed into the workplace, was a first for the shelter since its inception in 1978. The shelter’s next project would put 10 homeless people through a panel-beating course and apprenticeship, he said.

“We intend to do another security course in the near future and look at getting clients involved in hydroponics, which is not only therapeutic but also an opportunity to create sustainability and employment. Our focus is to equip the homeless to be the best they can be. We have to find their passion and tap into it.”

Max Egan-Fowler, 25, of the Kalk Bay shelter, with his certificates and hand-made trophy.
Jarod Klaas, 26, from the Napier shelter, with his certificates.
Security company boss Giovanni Rossi, left, with Jarod Klaas, 26, who received the “best firearm student” award.
Instructor Liam Eley-Weyers with Ralton Fillies, 53, from the Kalk Bay shelter.