With the harsh winter conditions currently being faced by many homeless people on the street and local shelters filled to capacity, the task of the GSCID Social Outreach team is even more challenging than usual. “Because shelter is at a premium during the cold and rainy season,” says Ingrid Frieslaar, the GSCID’s Social Outreach Manager, “we focus our efforts on trying to relocate our known homeless clients to their original communities.”

Ingrid Frieselaar, the GSCID’s Social Outreach Manager, offers assistance to a homeless person


Ingrid Frieslaar, the GSCID’s Social Outreach Manager, offers assistance to a homeless person

 

Her task is made more difficult by the many young destitutes who are presently entering the GSCID precinct from the rural areas. “We have definitely seen a rise in the homeless numbers over the last while,” says Frieslaar. “Our homeless numbers have increased from 16 to approximately 42 in the last month or two. They tend to be aged between 23 – 44 and come from outlying country areas such as De Aar and Kimberley and generally end up in the city due to poverty driven desperation.”

Her job dealing with the newcomers is particularly challenging, as unlike the regular homeless who are known in the area and with whom she has built relationships of trust, the newcomers are not willing to co-operate. “They tend to keep moving from one place to another and it is therefore hard to keep track of them and engage them in any meaningful interaction to get them off the streets,” adds Frieslaar. She is assisted in her fieldwork by Chrysalis intern, Lifa Nchanda, who joined the GSCID team at the end of May as part of his internship.

According to Charl Brooks, GSCID Operations Manager, 80% of the GSCID’s security interactions are with the criminal element amongst the homeless. “They get arrested, then their cases are remanded as the courts are too full and very soon they land back on the streets again,” says Brooks. A further complication is that there is inadequate governmental infrastructure providing for the homeless.

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