Making a difference where it matters

Making a difference where it matters

The Hermanus Night Shelter in Mount Pleasant recently received a welcome boost of R400 000 that will go towards adding the finishing touches to this safe house before it opens its doors.

This generous donation was made possible by the Overberg District Municipality via the Joint District and Metro Approach (JDMA) which is co-ordinated by the Department of Local Government in the Western Cape. Underpinned by the principles of co-planning, co-budgeting and co-implementation, the JDMA came about as a result of collaboration between national government, provincial government, municipalities, NGOs and the private sector with a view to improving and changing the lives and living conditions of people.

During the symbolic handover of the donation at the beginning of October, Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dudley Coetzee, gave a brief overview of the project, stating that a facility such as this is an essential commodity in the Overstrand area.

“This is a dream that has been in the making for nearly 20 years. Back in 2004, Les Abbott and Ray Hartmann set their minds on providing a shelter for homeless people. Thanks to their diligence, tenacity and perseverance through the years, this facility is now almost ready to provide a safe haven for those who have no other means,” Coetzee said.

Pictured at the ceremonial handover of the donation on 8 October 2021: Ward 4 Cllr Ronald Nutt, Overstrand Municipal Manager Dean O'Neill, Cllr Christine May, Les Abbott of the Hermanus Night Shelter Association, Minister Anton Bredell, Overstrand Mayor Dudley Coetzee, ODM Mayor Sakkie Franken, Head of Department of Local Government Graham Paulse and ODM Municipal Manager David Beretti.

Going on to thank all the other individuals and organisations who have contributed and donated to the project over the years, he said: “This is humility and generosity at its best.”

The Mayor added that the face of the homeless has changed over the years, especially over the past two years. “It is no longer just people with a drug or alcohol addiction that are homeless. The Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on our economy has resulted in many people losing their jobs and businesses closing down. Consequently, many people no longer have a place to put their head down at night because they have lost the means to generate an income for themselves.”

In his keynote address, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, said that once operational, the facility will be able to accommodate 34 homeless people and will also serve as a facility for other SAPS prevention and support programmes.

He emphasised the importance of partnerships and said that government cannot do it on its own. “We need to join hands to address social needs and to move forward.”

Les Abbott of the Hermanus Night Shelter Association thanked the JDMA for their donation since it will be sufficient to get the shelter up and running.

Quoting the association’s motto – having a heart for the homeless – Abbott said, “and that is all we have: a heart. We do not have the expertise to know how to deal with people with a drug addiction or to deal with homelessness.

“To that end, we are grateful for the Minister’s words regarding good relationships: We need partnerships and experts in social welfare to make this facility work and reach its potential.”

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