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The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate is inviting NGOs and shelters to apply for aid to help manage the expected influx of street people needing assistance over winter. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate is calling on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to apply for aid as part of its Winter Readiness Programme for street people. Each year, the directorate procures food, blankets, mattresses and toiletries that are distributed to qualifying NGOs who work with street people.

‘Some shelters are overrun by requests for assistance in winter, when many street people look for a warm and dry place to sleep. Our contribution is meant to ensure that these organisations can help as many people as possible,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.In 2014, 16 organisations qualified for aid and the number increased to 17 last year. Earlier this year, the City held a winter readiness workshop with organisations to assess the programme, including why some requests for aid were turned down and also how the City and its partners can streamline the aid programme going forward. One of the suggestions was that the application period be open for longer than before, so applications will only close on 13 May 2016.

‘I appeal to organisations to visit our website and complete their applications. They would also need to provide supporting documentation, so I urge them to apply sooner rather than later. A final decision will be made on an application once we have conducted a site visit to ensure that the information provided is correct,’ said Councillor Little.

Applicants must be registered as non-governmental or non-profit organisations, have facilities where people can overnight, and comply with all health and safety regulations. Application forms are available online here: http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/socialdevelop/Documents/Winter_Readiness_Application_Form2016.pdf

In addition to providing funding for the winter readiness programme, the City’s Street People Programme will continue its own interventions designed to help people get off the streets and prevent others from migrating to the streets.

‘One of the most frustrating challenges continues to be people who refuse our offers of assistance. We can’t force anyone to accept help, but on the other hand it looks like we aren’t doing anything to address the issue. I have to remind the public that it is not a crime to be homeless. There are by-laws that prohibit certain behaviour in public and our law enforcement officials act as far as they can in enforcing these by-laws, but ultimately we cannot force people off the street,’ added Councillor Little.

Of the 4 377 people screened by the City’s Reintegration Unit between July 2015 and February 2016, 3 328 (76%) refused assistance. The rest were referred to shelters and other social services, reunited with their families, or assisted with temporary work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

‘We haven’t found a silver bullet by any means, but there are options available to those individuals who want a way out. I struggle to make sense of why someone would willingly want to remain on the streets when there is help available, but I know for certain that the continued challenge of indiscriminate handouts does not help the situation. I once again appeal to the public to give responsibly. Find a shelter or charity and channel donations through them. Giving directly to someone begging on the street corner simply keeps them there and does nothing to improve their lot in the long-run. In fact, handouts simply perpetuate a devastating cycle that we are trying very hard to break, but we need everyone to work together to make that happen,’ added Councillor Little.

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