u-turn 25 birthday

U-Turn, a non-profit organisation that helps people get off the streets, has opened a new homeless shelter at its premises in Claremont.

On Monday, various City officials and civic leaders toured the Hawthorne Road facility, which is expected to open next week.

The shelter can house 35 homeless people and possibly more in future, according to Fernando Classen, the manager of the U-Turn service centre.

The City had donated mattresses, blankets, pillows and sleeping bags and would help with food donations, he said.

Those using the shelter would have their bags checked for weapons and drugs, he said.

“No substances and weapons are allowed on the property. They can either hand in those items or leave with them.”

Each occupant will be assigned a locker and they will wash at a shower trailer on the premises (“Mobile showers offer wash for homeless,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, September 22, 2022).

Previously the centre was only open during the day to provide meals, training and counselling for the homeless, but it would now be open throughout the night, said Mr Classen.

“All people staying overnight will have the opportunity to register to be part of the daily activities of the service centre.”

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross said U-Turn was “working towards their dream of housing people and to take them off the streets”.

Ward councillor Mikhail Manuel said the shelter would make it possible for the homeless to take part in U-Turn’s rehabilitation programmes in a dignified way.

Claremont Improvement District Company executive manager Abdul Kerbelker said: “There are people occupying the open Claremont spaces, and we need to give them an alternative, which is a safe overnight space, and then they can follow the U-Turn programmes if they choose to.”

Debbie Wall-Smith, a committee member of the newly established Upper Kenilworth Improvement District, said that instead of giving money to the homeless, the public could give Mi-Change vouchers that could be redeemed at the shelter for accommodation, a meal, a shower and clothing.

Visit homeless.org.za for more information about U-Turn.

Standing inside the men’s sleeping quarters at the shelter from left are Upper Kenilworth Improvement District committee member, Debbie Wall-Smith, U-Turn service centre manager Fernando Classen, Claremont Improvement District Company members Karen Bailey and Abdul Kerbelker, U-Turn CEO Jean-Ray Knighton Fitt, mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross, ward councillor Mikhail Manuel, Sub-council 11 chairman Antonio van der Rheede and U-Turn operation manager Raymond Bowman.

Originally published in the Southern Suburbs Tatler on 15 June 2023

Photo: U-turn Homeless Ministries