u-turn 25 birthday

Memoranda of Agreements (MOAs) between four registered non-profit organisations – U-Turn, Ubuntu Circle of Courage, TASP and the Haven Night Shelter – and the City of Cape Town will collectively add 294 temporary bed spaces at facilities in various parts of the metropole.

Siwaphiwe Myataza-Mzantsi, media liaison officer: U-turn, says while U-turn hasn’t signed the MOA yet, they are sure it will be sent through by the City in due course

“The City’s support will be of a tangible nature such as mattresses, toiletries, food and so on, as well as help from 12 additional EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) workers,” says Myataza-Mzantsi.

For the past 26 years, U-turn has focused on the rehabilitation of street people using a three-phase, skills-based programme.

It starts with basic needs relief, like food and clothing, available at a first-phase service centre, and then continues to drug and alcohol rehabilitation support (phase two). The model culminates in a work-based learnership that lasts on average 19 months, called the “work-readiness” programme (phase three).

Myataza-Mzantsi says U-turn’s services are currently open to everyone living on the street.

“We are hoping that the MOA programme will help to bring in a group of new people who haven’t experienced our services.”

She says winter is a very challenging period for people experiencing homelessness.

“Besides lacking resources for survival, winter always reminds people on the streets that they don’t belong. With this initiative we are further able to keep people experiencing homelessness warm and provide them with accommodation to sleep and be guaranteed safety. This is a big win and as U-turn we are happy to assist people to take advantage of this opportunity and work towards transforming their lives.”

According to Myataza-Mzantsi, it is estimated that there are over 14 000 people living on the street and less than 3 500 shelter beds.

“There is no doubt that more needs to be done by all levels of government as well as businesses and residents if we are going to turn the tide on homelessness. We applaud the City’s efforts and progressive stance in making more beds available.”

The City is the only metro dedicating a social development budget to helping people off the streets.

The budget for 23/24 amounts to R94,75m. As part of their Winter Readiness Programme, the City will further provide non-perishable foodstuff, cleaning materials, hygiene packs, mattresses, linen and blankets to the shelters.

A total of 184 staff members will also be deployed through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to assist NPOs with general and administrative tasks.

Patricia van der Ross, Mayco Member for community services and health, says it is important to take a step back to see the bigger picture, and appreciate the hard work that happens on a daily basis.

“We have very good relationships with the NGO sector, and we thank them for their tireless work and continued partnership. There is no easy, universal fix to what is a complex social challenge, and the City is doing all it can to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives by helping them off the streets,” says Van der Ross.

Myataza-Mzantsi says during winter, our services are often inundated with people seeking help.

“We do appeal to the public for more support in helping people off the street. We also encourage people not to give cash, which fuels addiction and rather to respond directly to homelessness with Mi-Change vouchers that provide basic needs and a pathway out of homelessness,” she says. – Nettalie Viljoen, People’s Post

Originally published by the People’s Post on 23 May 2023

Photo: U-turn Homeless Ministries