Resources Available to Street People in Cape Town

Many Cape Town organizations that provide services to street people are connected by an organization known as the Street People’s Forum (SPF). Service Dining Rooms (SDR) is a partner of this body of outreach organizations (Street People’s Forum, 2015). SPF connects these organizations in order to more effectively meet needs, alleviate challenges, and generate employment opportunities through skills development programmes (SPF, 2015).

The founding members of SPF, including the Haven Night Shelters, MES (Mould, Power, Serve), and The Carpenter’s Shop, have all utilized successful outreach methodologies. Common themes in their methodologies involve referrals to resources and effective social work. The Haven, for example, aims to assist struggling street people by referring them to a shelter and other resources, such as health care (The Haven, 2015). Through this, the Haven eventually re-unifies people with family and ultimately to a home. The approach at the Haven is to engage social workers as field workers, who enter the streets to encourage street people to move into temporary shelter to begin the process of re-socialization.

MES similarly places social workers at the forefront of their organization. Field workers from MES initially build lasting relationships with street people in order to encourage street people to utilize their services (MES, 2010). MES also has a helpdesk which initially evaluates clients, either pointing them to potentially helpful resources (e.g., clothing, meals, health care) or encouraging them to participate in a second evaluation with a professional social worker or therapist. Additionally, MES offers life and vocational skills training to teach clients skills useful in obtaining jobs in the future. The depth of professional staff and resources within MES has helped make their methodologies successful.

The Carpenter’s Shop (TCS) provides vocational and social skills training to offer the tools to “reintegrate” people into society (TCS, 2015). The Carpenter’s Shop has a strong team of social workers, vocational trainers, and social development practitioners to work with their clients. Clients have positive comments regarding their development and relationship with TCS. For example, Sibulele, a client since 2011 explains that through the TCS Carpenter course, he managed to get a job, and that it has been a “breakthrough” experience for him (TCS, 2015).

The organizations compiled under the SPF all have unique ways of providing support to the street people population in Cape Town. Yet, most organizations rely on building strong relationships between the organization and their clients, through skilled social workers. Consequently, street people continue to rely on these organizations to provide useful services and encourage other members of the street community to utilize the services offered (TCS, 2015).


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