GEORGE NEWS - A letter undersigned by the homeless people at Rosemoor Stadium shows their gratitude towards the social development officials. The shelter and comfort, they say, made them realise it is not that difficult to get a job, and that they can live healthier lives, have trustworthy friendships, read and even practise a religion and regain their self-worth.
The stadium currently shelters 53 persons of the original 81 at the start of lockdown. The people in the shelter wrote to the social development section to portray their gratitude.
The Provincial Department of Social Development has appointed a service provider to prepare three meals a day for the shelter residents and the municipality supplies toiletries and cleaning materials to them.
A doctor visits the people at the shelter twice per week for medical checkups, while the municipal staff also make sure they honour their clinic and doctor's appointments and collect their social grants. They play games and even organise their own modelling shows to make the lockdown more bearable.
One of the success stories is that of a family of three adults, who went home to their family living on a farm. In another instance, two young men had decided to go back to their families living in Denneoord, after they were able to turn their lives around during the lockdown period.
"As indicated by the doctor's report, most of the people living on the streets that were heavy drug users, have successfully stopped using and regained their health," said Sophia Fanelo, the manager for Social Development.
She said her section is starting with training soon on how to do addiction counselling. "The improvement in the people living on the streets is visible. We aim every day to reunite them with their families, or provide them with some kind of solution, like helping them find a job. Most of them would not want to live on the streets if they had a better option."
A team of 12 hardworking municipal officials of Social Development collect soup products for all 137 municipal soup kitchens. They work in teams and are on standby over weekends to monitor the soup kitchens and the temporary homeless shelter at the stadium.
According to Fanelo more people are visiting the soup kitchens and consequently the kitchens have had to provide two meals per day, seven days a week.
"Before the lockdown the soup kitchens usually provided one meal, three times per week, only to children and elderly people. Now the kitchens provide for more than 20 000 people daily," said Fanelo.
The municipality also assists 13 private kitchens in George that have been opened by churches and other organisations, with perishables left over from the municipal donation centre food bank.
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