The homeless get five-star treatment

Leoni Greyling from CleoCasa mobile spa volunteered her services to the homeless during Dignity Day. With her is Richard Jones enjoying a manicure.

The far south’s homeless were treated to a day of dignity on Friday last week.

Revamp The Valley; Social Work Connect, a community-based social work initiative; and the False Bay College’s staff and students were behind the initiative, held to mark World Homeless Day, which is held each year on October 10.

The homeless enjoyed a cup of coffee and tea and some scones on arrival. Volunteers gave them haircuts, manicures, pedicures and assistance with compiling and printing CVs.

Non-profitorganisations eMzantsi Carnival and Community Cohesion held workshops; the Harlequin Foundation donated blankets and a pop-up clothing store donated clothing.

Revamp the Valley founder Leigh Barrett said they wanted to integrate the homeless into the community and help people understand how easy it was to lose everything.

“Progress in ending homelessness can only be made by seeing the humanity of the most vulnerable people in our community and treating them with respect,” she said.

The homeless were given toiletries and also served a healthy buffet-style lunch.

Richard Jones, 76 said he has been on the streets for more than 20 years. He attended Fish Hoek Primary School from 1951 to 1954 and said he was a “true local”.

He was busy getting a manicure during the Echo’s visit and said he really enjoyed the attention.

“It is not something I ever get to do for myself. I think I will have a haircut but I will keep my beard,” he said laughing.

Johannes Koopman said he slept near the yacht club and was grateful to get his hair cut.

“I’m having fun and everyone is enjoying themselves. For a few hours we don’t have to worry about anything,” he said.

Gwen Koopman said she had never had a professional CV and had never had the means to get one.

“A CV can be the beginning of new things for me. Nothing is impossible,” she said.

Meanwhile, JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social services, said in a statement that World Homeless Day was an opportune time to highlight the challenges street people faced.

The City plans to do a headcount of street people in the coming months to gauge whether its intervention programmes are making a difference. The last one was in 2015.

* Revamp The Valley encourages local businesses to get involved in future events, especially where temporary, part-time or full-time jobs are available. Email Ms Barrett at valleyrevamp@gmail.com for details.