u-turn 25 birthday

With the financial year-end fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to open your heart and use a portion of your taxable income to help someone’s pathway off the streets.

It may seem rare for a person experiencing several years of chronic homelessness coupled with progressively heavy substance addiction, to overcome and go on to become a lawyer.

At U-turn Homeless Ministries, that’s a norm. I’m one of their many living testimonies – I used to sleep under bridges with a filled-up tik pipe as my only companion.

But with U-turn, I managed to shrug all that off, soldiered on to an LLB and am now a candidate attorney at the Equal Education Law Centre.

With your support, more people could leave the streets for good, and achieve even greater success stories.

It’s also a perfect chance to reduce your tax while reducing homelessness by donating before the end of the tax year on February 28.

From lived experience, it’s almost impossible to get off the streets if you don’t have a stable income and professional therapeutic support. But getting a job while living on the street is very difficult.

Even those lucky enough to find odd jobs cannot keep them for various reasons. Those who eventually manage to cross the divide, lack the necessary skills to maintain stability and keep jobs, which is the main ingredient to remaining off the streets.

That sounds like a Catch-22 situation, doesn’t it? Well, the U-turn skills development approach has been turning the tables around on this front for more than 25 years. Statistics and U-turn Champions tell it all. “U-turn is such (an) amazing organisation because (not to bad-mouth other organisations) there are other places that take you and send you to rehab and you come back home.

And now what?” says one of our champions, Fabian Pillay.

As one of our champions puts it “… when I was on drugs, nobody had anything nice to say about me … In those 31 years of drug addiction, I lost complete trust in people … I’m only starting to meet honest people now …there are people who care.

It (the work-readiness programme) changed my perspective of life, drastically …” This is just one of many success stories from U-turn’s work-readiness programme – this really works, especially if more residents come on board and support the initiative.

To top all that, your donation could qualify for a tax deduction of up to 10% of your taxable income for that particular financial year.

Depending on the value of a donation in kind, any surplus balance in excess of the 10% threshold would generally roll over for deduction in the subsequent year of tax assessment.

Considering that U-turn is an approved Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act, any donation received, properly recorded and accompanied by a section 18A certificate can be submitted to the SA Revenue Service (Sars) for assessment.

Sars then deducts the relevant percentage off your taxable income for that year of assessment. That’s how you can reduce your tax while also reducing homelessness.

Apart from the tax incentive, your concerted support changes someone’s life and helps reduce tent cities in our public spaces. The more we get involved, the more people can leave the streets permanently. – Malixole Sikhungo

Originally published in the Cape Times on 3 February 2023

Photo: Living Roots