*Hi, I’m Cathy. I’m a champion on the U-turn phase 3 work-readiness programme. My passion is communication and I’m part of the U-turn communication team. Every week I will be writing a blog post sharing my personal experience on this programme, to give you a window into the experience of being a champion on the U-turn programme.

Last week I shared my experiences at the night shelter where I stayed for a second time and later joined the U-turn P3 work-readiness programme.

After I officially joined the P3 work-readiness programme, my case worker contacted a second phase shelter named Loaves and Fishes in Observatory. (In case you were wondering, a night shelter is an overnight stay for the homeless, a second phase shelter is for working or rehabilitation clients.)

By the start of the week I had an interview with the Loaves and Fishes social worker, by Wednesday after my group panel interview, I was accepted! And told I could move in immediately. While in the taxi on my way to the U-turn Durbanville Charity Shop, I asked a friend if I could store all my bags I had accumulated from my glamourous stay at the Stellenbosch Municipality’s COVID temporary shelter for the homeless. 

The next morning I left very early with a large suitcase and two bags. On my way to taxi rank, the front wheel of my suitcase broke. (You would not understand how I felt when that wheel broke!)To top it all off…I had to take several taxis to get to my destination, along with three seats payment, each time I travelled. I can’t remember if we were in Parow or Vasco, but as the taxi was slowing down to stop for a passenger, one of the wheels flew off! I still remember seeing the wheel passing us. 

When arriving at Cape Town Station, I utilised a special that one of the e-hailing transport services had and it was way cheaper than paying for three seats in a taxi. I could not see myself struggling with the broken suitcase down Scott Road for fifteen minutes, like one climbing Kilimanjaro.  

I arrived safely later that morning at the ‘Loaves’ (as it is affectionately known by their clients) but I cannot say the same for my poor suitcase. Although, I felt like I had slain a few dragons that morning. I was welcomed by the house mother, who showed me to my bed and locker. I placed my suitcase underneath my bed. I put my bag in the locker. 

My day was about to begin. It was not only my first day at the shelter, but also my first day on the job at the U-turn Charity shop in Mitchells Plain. One of the champions that lived at the shelter waited for me and we travelled together to the shop.

We walked up Rochester Road, a road that I would later develop a love-hate relationship with. It has an incline, a road that can have you lost in thoughts. That day, we met and developed an unsavoury  friendship.

Myself and the champion waited at the bus stop. We took the bus to Mitchells Plain. We got off at the Town Centre and walked over the bridge to Promenade Mall. 

We walked past the main mall to a greyish building. Next to the dentist and doctor’s surgery. I found my new family and a new home.

Join me next week as I share my new adventures.