New hope for homeless

The frail legs of the homeless senior.

A Table View charity has come to the aid of a couple and their family matriarch, who is in her 80s, after they ended up living in their car on the beachfront.

They were left in the lurch when they couldn’t find a shelter prepared to take all three of them. Not wanting to be split up, they ended up at the beachfront where Table View Angels, an NPO and NPC, found them.

According to the charity, the family hadn’t eaten a cooked meal in some time. The group posted an urgent appeal to the community for help on its Facebook page.

The family is one of many the group has helped. It gives food parcels to families in need and tries to find them jobs. But a shortage of shelters between the city centre and Melkbosstrand makes their work difficult.

“I’m feeling sick to my stomach with a sense of helplessness and shock,” said Table View Angels member, Ankarien Oelofse, in her Facebook plea.

“Today, we went to visit this family sleeping in their car on the beachfront and found this tannie in her 80s and weighing 36kg sleeping on the back seat. She was recently in hospital and told us that sleeping in the hospital waiting chair for three days was worse than sleeping in the car, although her legs are getting real sore.

“The couple, who lost everything, are looking for work, him as an electrician and her as admin or reception. They had no food and no means to cook food. We took a tin opener, some plastic Tupperware and tinned food as well as fresh fruit we got in this morning. The three of them have not eaten a cooked meal for a while.”

The Angels had tried to get the family into a homeless shelter, but many of the shelters, none of which were located in the area, only catered for women and children. None catered for a family unit, so the family would have had to split up.

“There are no shelters that take in the husband and wife together. It is either for abused children or it’s just for men or just for women. Luckily we got a call from a family who could take them in meanwhile. My idea is to have a shelter in Table View, it is a passion of mine,” said Ms Oelofse.

Others have faced the same predicament, including Destiny Marr, who became stranded after falling pregnant and could not find a home for both herself and her son.

“I searched all houses of safety and couldn’t find one which would allow me to keep my child. I was staying in the house shelter in Claremont during my pregnancy, and I volunteered in Table View with the Angels, who helped me with everything.

“They supported me till I was on my feet and threw me a baby shower, so that I had everything that I needed when my son was born. They helped me to find a job and find a place to rent which doesn’t cost too much. I am fully independent now. They’re helping 24 families at the moment,” said Ms Marr.

In May, the City announced it would create a refuge for the homeless at the Cape College of Theology in Milnerton (“Milnerton refuge for street people,” Tabletalk June 8). But the plan stalled over problems with the lease agreement.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, said the City was now trying to find City facilities to house the centre.

“The City is currently conducting a public participation process about facilities in the Atlantis, Strandfontein and Schaapkraal areas.

“So, while premises are still being finalised, our vision remains firmly in place: to provide facilities with services designed to address the medium- to long-term needs and development of street people who want assistance.

“We aim to put participants in touch with various social and other services and monitor their progress until they’re ready to be reintegrated into society or reunified with their families,” said Ms Little.

Email Ankarien Oelofse at Ankarien@tableviewangels.co.za to find out more about the Table View Angels, or follow the group on Facebook.