[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Jerome is on the U-turn Life Change Programme and is being provided with work-based rehabilitation as part of a journey off the street. Jerome comes from a disadvantaged background that resulted in a life of abuse, hurt and difficulties. Jerome has been part of the program for almost a year now and has achieved significant growth as well as restoration in his life and family relationships.

One of Jerome’s responsibilities is managing the U-turn voucher ‘shop’ at our Service Centre for street people in Claremont. This shop sells clothing to street people in exchange for a U-turn voucher. We caught up with him to find out more:

Tell me about the U-turn voucher shop – what does it sell and how does it work?

Jerome: The shop is open three afternoons a week for homeless people to come and ‘buy’ clothing and shoes. They buy things using U-turn vouchers – one voucher equals one item of clothing. If someone doesn’t have a voucher, they can earn vouchers by doing some ragging – that is cutting up old clothing that cannot be sold into rags which can be sold. The homeless often expect to get something for free – at Powerhouse we are trying to help people become more independent and teaching them that they need to work first to earn a voucher in order to buy something from the shop helps with this.

Where do the clothes come from that you ‘sell’?

Jerome: U-turn has clothing bins across the city and people kindly donate clothing they no longer need. This clothing gets sorted and washed at the U-turn laundry. The high quality clothing goes to our six Charity Shops to be sold to support the work of U-turn and aid in the work rehabilitation programme. Any clothing that is not sold or is not good enough quality to be sold goes to the Powerhouse to the clothing shop that I manage. Torn or heavily soiled clothing is sent for ragging. Nothing is wasted!

What would happen if there was no clothing shop?

Jerome: The U-turn voucher shop at Powerhouse is the only place in Cape Town that I know of that provides clothing to homeless people in this way. They rely on it and it gives them both dignity and hope whilst building their independence. Without this shop, I don’t know what they would do.

What do you wish you had more of?

Jerome: We are always in need of more clothing – especially long pants and jackets and tops with long sleeves. It is cold outside at night – even in the spring – and the street people come looking for things to keep them warm. We also need shoes – we’re always running out of shoes.

What makes you get up in the morning and come to work at U-turn?

Jerome: It is great seeing people excited to stand in line waiting to enter the store. They are so grateful for the clothing they can get. For me also on a journey of recovery, I am learning leadership skills and how to manage a clothing store which one day I’ll be able to use at one of the other U-turn Charity Stores or another store in the open labour market.

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