Workshop report: Social issues in Obs

The OCA hosted a social issues workshop on 2nd June, facilitated by New Hope SA who work in the area of those living on the streets.  36 people attended the workshop, and it was great to hear directly from those who had been living on the street, but who had begun to live life more fully due to specific interventions.

There was a great sense of gratitude for what is going on in our community and surrounding suburbs, as well as a sense of everyone wanting to do more/better.

If all those who are concerned, and all those who are working in this area, and if we tap into bigger structures such as The Street People’s Forum (the CoCT are more willing to work through The Street People’s Forum as opposed to any number of individual organisations), we will be able to achieve some of our local objectives.  These are summarised as being:

  • ensuring that those who live rough in our suburb are treated with respect as human beings;
that we become more sensitive around the labels that we use for those living rough on the streets;
that we seek ways of not enabling destructive lifestyles but rather focus on building relationships;
  • that we understand more fully that many of those living on the streets are addicts, and that their addiction is not the core problem but merely a symptom of deeper issues;
  • that we educate others that for an addict, food may be of secondary (but necessary) importance to getting the next fix, therefore vouchers / tokens are good schemes but are only part of the picture;
  • that we support those groups who are currently working in this space providing food, clothing, toiletries and relational support (in Obs these are Loaves and Fishes, Ferdinando’s pasta kitchen, Breaking Bread community and Gospel Ramah church);
that we also support those organisations in Obs who are working at rehab such as Inner Peace (welcome to Obs Inner Peace!) and any other organisations that I may have forgotten (sorry!);
  • that we launch our Obs token scheme as soon as possible;
  • that we interact with the community, local structures such as ONW, OBSID and OCA, and then CoCT regarding establishing a ‘pilot open safe space’ in Obs that will provide 24 hour toilet facilities, shower, lockers and a safe, dry place to sleep at night;
  • that we continue to build relationships with other structures and organisations such as Cape Mental Health and other neighbouring civics and SRA’s.

The conversation has just begun –  there is still much to learn from each other about different approaches and practical guidance we can offer each other.  We are facing some real challenges locally in terms of reported anti-social behaviour, and it would be great to get some practical input on how to deal with these difficult situations.

New Hope SA has produced a map (online here) which indicates all the organisations that are operating in this space.  If there are any omissions in this map, please let us know.  Obs is going to launch its own token scheme shortly (tokens will be purchased from restaurants and businesses in the area and redeemed at Loaves and Fishes, Breaking Bread and Ferdinando’s as an initial pilot project).

If anyone would like more information or would like to get involved in any way, please contact Carolyn Neville: [email protected]