Everyone who comes into contact with us at WID will have the pleasure of knowing our resident social officer Abigail Abrahams, affectionately known as Abby. She has been part of our team for years and has the eyes and ears that drive social development in the area.
We caught up with her on the cusp of the spring season to get a fresh perspective on growth and plans in Woodstock.
WID: First things first, can you explain in your own words why we do what we do? If someone doesn’t know anything about the WID, how would you describe it?
Abby: I would say the reasoning is that we want a safer, cleaner and more environmentally friendly Woodstock. We want the community to visit and enjoy the area, and for people to come and invest in the future so that the area can develop and reach its full potential.
WID: Why do you do what you do?
Abby: I really enjoy helping the less fortunate, especially women and children. I work with the homeless on a regular basis and this poses major challenges but also beautiful moments. I am humbled by the way homeless people can turn over a new leaf and start over if they choose. Those that are willing can change their lives, and it is so rewarding to be a part of that journey.
WID: That is such an inspiring thing to hear. How has 2018 been so far?
Abby: To be honest, it’s been tough. This year has had many challenges, but I guess if there aren’t any, how will one be able to open the next door? Or start the next chapter? I don’t believe anything comes easily.
WID: What projects from this year would you mark as a particular success?
Abby: The ID project, where we assisted a number of homeless people to attain their identity documents, ran very successfully. Many people are asking if I am going to do it again, as it really helped those in need. I will seriously consider implementing it again early in the new year.
WID: What new projects are you preparing for?
Abby: I am planning the agenda for the new year at the moment …you will just have to wait and see what happens! This year our annual holiday project is due to happen soon and we continue to run our gardening project on a month to month basis. We are still encouraging businesses to invest, so hopefully we will be able to end off the year on a good note.
WID: Would you tell us a little about the holiday programme? Who is involved and what is the project about?
Abby: The Holiday program starts on 1st October and runs until the 5th. It is for kids in the area that need to be kept busy and off the streets during school holidays. SAPS, Woodstock Library, City of Cape Town, the Water and Sanitation department and Blue Ribbon bread are all role players that will be involved in making the day a success. I am also preparing for the December holiday program to make sure we are ready in time.
WID: Is there anything important you would like to leave the public with?
Abby: I really would like the businesses and the community to give responsibly. Please give directly to a shelter or NGO in the Woodstock area. You can donate food, blankets or even clothes. Giving directly to a homeless person, although well intentioned, enables them to stay on the street for another day or week, which is longer than anyone should.
I also want to request that businesses do not encourage homeless people to sleep on their property or give them permission to build shacks. Again, this is done with the best intentions but it will become an embedded problem that the we, as the Woodstock Improvement District, will have to deal with at a later stage.
It is also unfair to the person to ask them to leave the property after they have been there without disturbance for a while. If a structure appears on your property, please contact our control room immediately on 021 462 1205.
We want to help integrate people into society, and for Woodstock to become the best that it can be!