Plans to protect Cape Town's most vulnerable - 10,000 homeless people
It's a question that's been weighing heavily on the minds of many Capetonians - as those of us fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads prepare for the 21-day lockdown starting midnight Thursday, what is being done to keep the city's vulnerable homeless community safe?
Lester Kiewit interviews Mike Irwin from the community organisation Friends of the Homeless.
Irwin notes that the City is in the process of identifying eight sites to house people currently living on the streets.
There will be eight sites over the four greater areas of Cape Town, but one of the issues that's concerning us out in Muizenberg where I am, and in the outlying areas, is usually it's the CBD that's focused on.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
There are around 10,000 homeless people in Cape Town. As you can imagine that's 1,000 or more on each of the eight sites which is a huge difficult undertaking.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
He explains what these sites are likely to look like and in what circumstances the homeless are likely to be accommodated.
According to the conversations with the City of Cape Town, they're more like a safe space idea, which is like an enclosed [space] guarded by law enforcement.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
One of the suggestions is that Ladles of Love - who have a huge connection with homeless people - would be instrumental in helping those people. They'd prefer to feed them in that one space.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
At this point in the interview, a voice note was received from Ladles of Love founder, Danny Diliberto who detailed his suggestions to the City of Cape Town.
His recommendation is that there should be a centralised food provision system through these safe spaces.
I did mention that Ladles of Love would, to its best, provide two meals a day to the shelters. I also suggest that all arbitrary soup kitchens that are just a once-off or people who are just lay out a table... this should all be done through these safe spaces to hopefully draw the homeless people to these areas.Danny Diliberto, Founder - Ladles of Love
Diliberto points out that feeding 1,000 people a day is going to be costly.
That's times two: porridge in the morning and some type of meal during the day.Danny Diliberto, Founder - Ladles of Love
He adds that help from the public should be accepted only in the form of monetary donations and non-perishable foods.
Irwin says an upside of grouping street people would be the opportunity to test them for the virus and enforce quarantine accordingly for their own protection.
The most vulnerable people can die from it [Covid-19] - you know TB, Aids and so on.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
He notes there isn't a "great relationship" between law enforcement and homeless people
I just hope this can be done very empathetically. I've always found that homeless people respond wonderfully to politeness and empathy and gentleness and patience... I would encourage the law enforcement people who are all wonderful people trying to protect us. just to remember that.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
These people have so much fear right now; they're sitting on the streets... We've found that the smallest kindness, the smallest piece of bread is [received with] gratitude.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
It would be horrific it if was a forceful thing, you know putting people in the back of police vans, it would be a total nightmare.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
This coronavirus is not about any label at all... We have to just stop labelling each other and just get together and help unconditionally really.Mike Irwin, Friends of the Homeless
Irwin also discusses the way forward for the refugees currently camping out in the CBD near the central police station.
Listen to the insightful discussion in the audio below:
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