Helping the homeless to build a sustainable future

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” As South Africans, we are sometimes desensitised to the poverty that permeates our ordinary lives. We become used to the sight of the radical impact our ever-expanding gap between the haves and have-nots creates. While most of us would like to help, many people are uneducated on the extraordinarily complex issues that create and sustain homelessness. 

Due to our own basic understanding of these ever-evolving issues, it makes a greater difference when we partner with and give back to organisations equipped with the infrastructure, skill and experience to combat homelessness and help in a sustainable way.

“Handouts of cash given to desperate – often mentally ill people – add fuel to the same addictions that put them on the streets. Institutions such as our partners at MES have spent decades building, perfecting and maintaining the social infrastructure to efficiently maximise the impact of our donations, and the results are inarguable,” says Jaco Wessels, COO of our appointed urban management company, Geocentric.  

Here are our top recommendations of non-profit organisations active in 2022 and how to  contribute to their vision responsibly

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Help St Anne’s help others

WID St Annes

WID St Anne’s

Women and children are among the most vulnerable in our community and in society at large. As a community focused organisation, WID is committed to assisting entities that support those in need.

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From us to you – our deepest thanks to our contributors

“Nothing else in all life is such a maker of joy and cheer as the privilege of doing good.” — James Russell Miller

As we approach the giving time of the festive season, we are reminded of all the generous donations we receive from various role players in the community. This article is dedicated to thanking just a couple of those whose contributions have helped make our events successful.

KwikSpar Boulevard and Balmoral Supermarket

This thank you is slightly overdue, as our local KwikSpar has been helping us since last year. In June 2017 we hosted a holiday programme and had the mammoth task of feeding over 100 children. KwikSpar generously sponsored 200 hot dog rolls, all of which fed hungry mouths!

This year they paired with Balmoral Supermarket to support our Mandela Day event for the homeless in the Woodstock area. Both of these stores provided soup and bread for attendees. The food was a welcome gift and allowed us to serve and connect with the most vulnerable in our city.

The Mandela Day initiative in Town Hall park was of particular importance due to the focus of the event: health and wellness for the homeless. An HIV and TB awareness talk was given, and testing was provided along with items to promote safe sex. Due to the KwikSpar’s generous donation, we were also able to feed many people, including children.

Sir Fruit

We are so grateful to this quirky local fresh juice brand for their donation of almost 300 bottles of iced tea for our holiday program this year. After a day of games and fun the children were thirsty, and so grateful for a healthy tasty quencher!

We use our termly holiday programme to entertain and educate kids in the area while they are on school holiday. The iced tea was delicious and went well with the hearty lunches of macaroni and cheese which fuelled the kids as they played, listened to educational talks and had outings to various departments.

Once again, thank you so much to these businesses for their generosity. Without your help we may not have been able to host such successful events.

Our social officer Abby shares that she has been blown away by the generosity of the businesses and is so grateful for their support. “What to say? I would like to thank the sponsors for the donations toward our holiday programmes, health days for the homeless and Nelson Mandela Day this year,” she says. “I wish these organisations all the best over the festive season and New Year. I hope to keep our relationship strong and on-going – there are many new projects ahead!”

If you, or your business, would like to make a difference in the community, our social projects are the right place to start. Whether through donating food to our holiday funds or sponsoring someone with a monthly stipend to get them back on their feet, we can help you contribute to positive change. Our social officer Abby will gladly discuss your options and explain exactly how your donations would be distributed to help those that need it most.

Abigail Abrahams/ Social Officer:
Tel: 082 611 0591

Woodstock Improvement District soars to new heights

2016 has been a momentous year on several fronts for Woodstock Improvement District (WID). Projects that have been in process for 10 years have finally come to fruition, the WID team has worked more cohesively than ever before and we’re seeing positive change around every corner with new life coming into the suburb of Woodstock.

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Come with us as we revisit some of our proudest moments of 2016. When we look at how far we’ve come, we gain courage to pursue greater excellence in the future – bring on 2017.

Never too old to party

WID, together with the South African Police Service, hosted a red carpet event for the elderly in Woodstock in early December. It’s our responsibility as a community to look out for each group of people that makes our society what it is – the elderly included. In speaking to some of the attendees, we were delighted to hear them say that they felt spoilt and special. It was an occasion to celebrate the wisdom of those who have gone before us and give them the respect and appreciation they deserve. There was even a Senior Citizen of the Year competition.

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The wheels on the bike

At our heart is the desire to help wherever we can – sometimes in ways you don’t expect. Each person deserves kindness and it costs nothing to extend a helping hand. In October, a man by the name of Kumza arrived at our offices complaining that his bike had been taken apart. We phoned Nils Hansen at Woodstock Cycleworx and he was more than happy to help. He and his team pulled together and fixed Kumza’s bike ensuring that he could get home safely. This small act by a local business made the world of difference and we’ll continue to support people where we can in 2017.

The watchful Woodstock eye

The area of Woodstock faces, on a daily basis, issues including drinking and fighting in public, motor vehicle accidents, theft from motor vehicles, burglaries, robberies, damage to properties and fires in public spaces. The security team that governs the area consists of two vehicles, four foot patrollers and two law enforcement officers that cover the ground from Monday to Friday. In the evenings and at weekends there are also two vehicles to keep an eye on the area. It may sound like a small team, but they have handled more than 3 200 incidents in the 2015/16 period.

When you look at the reports, the figures and the numbers, I am sure you will agree that the WID hasn’t nearly finished making an impact yet. Coupled with your support and active co-operation, we will continue our duty and you will see the benefit of a safer community to work and live in.

A helping hand for Woodstock

The primary mandate of Woodstock Improvement District (WID) is to provide safety, security and cleaning services in the Woodstock area. A big part that is sometimes forgotten about is the impact of social upliftment in the community.

Abigail Abrahams, Woodstock’s own Mother Teresa and WID social manager, is the lady behind the many heart-warming things that happen to help those in need. It’s a tough job to keep track of who needs help, but Abi does this by walking the streets, connecting with people in the area and getting to know each family and individual in need – personally. She also gets assistance from the WID drivers who drive her to hot spots in the area. She is so well-known and revered in the community that some of the vagrants even pop in at the office if they need advice or help.

Poverty and homelessness are big issues in Woodstock, as it brings all sorts of destructive activities to the area and the streets. However, these people are also our eyes on the street and are often willing to help as soon as they see that someone cares for them and actually want to help.

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Over the years, WID has formed relationships with a few organisations so that they know who to contact when help is needed. St. Anne’s and ACVV help with assistance for mothers and children, and if they don’t have the capacity to help, Social Services (for children), or shelters like the Haven Shelter (for adults) are contacted. The ultimate goal is to get every person in need placed in a home or shelter, as there are currently 65 homeless people in the area and this is still increasing. WID also assists with getting IDs, going to SASSA to apply for grants, gives counselling and advice, refers clients to drug rehabilitation centres, and assists with typing CVs so unemployed people can find work.

To get a better understanding of why there are so many homeless people, it is important to understand how they got there and what the reasons are. Many of these vagrants are rejected by their families or they’ve come out of prison and land up on the street. Prostitution is also a big issue among the women on the street, as many of them see this as a way to earn enough money to support their drug addiction.

WID currently works with SAPS and other organisations in the community on a holiday programme that will start on 12 December. This programme will focus on child development and keeping children off the streets during the festive season. Pamphlets will also be handed out to raise awareness for the ‘16 days of activism for no violence against women and children’ United Nations campaign that kicks off from 25 November till 10 December.

In 2017, WID will focus specifically on providing those in need with food hampers and clothing. “If we can make these people feel good and look good, they should have more confidence to go for interviews or to go back to their families at home,” says Abigail. To make a success of this initiative, the help of the community will be greatly appreciated and will make a big difference. To do your part and give back this festive season, please donate old clothes by taking them to WID offices at 41 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock. For any other donations, or to help with volunteer work or projects during the holiday period and next year, please send an email to abigail@wid.co.za or give us a call on 021 462 7321.

Lastly, to keep Woodstock safe for everyone is a public effort and we’d like to ask every business and resident in the community to help us by giving us a call or sending us an email if there is anything we should know about. Let’s make this festive season a safe and blessed one for everyone in the area.