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The Gauteng Department of Social Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment has unveiled mobile shower services for homeless people in the province.

MEC Mbali Hlophe said the services are aimed at restoring dignity for people who find themselves homeless in the province.

“It’s about giving them warm food and a shower. It’s also about ensuring that our social workers have access to them and they are able to direct them to the broader services that we have. That’s about family reunification, which is really an ideal one because we want to make sure that we are able to unify families.

“But where we can’t, we are able to place them within our shelters where they are provided with skills to make sure that they are able to take care of themselves and to be sustainably out of the streets,” Hlophe said.

According to the department, the mobile shower service is in line with “Pillar 1 of the Gauteng City Region Strategy on Street Adult Homelessness, which is advocacy, awareness, and prevention of crisis and early intervention”.

“The service, which will go out to locations daily, will provide access to bathrooms, ablution facilities, laundry services and linking the homeless with other services such as access to shelters and social work interventions,” the department said in a statement.

The mobile wash services will go to areas where homeless people can be found.

“The wash trailer and office will be towed by a vehicle to the identified homeless hot spots. The proposed locations for the service are parks, open areas, under bridges, and on streets where the homeless community sometimes reside.

“The mobile services have separated showers and ablution facilities and an office. The wash trailer, which is 6m long, with an estimated weight of 2 800 kilograms, has three showers and three toilets, and the estimated office weight is 1 800kg,” the department said.

According to the department, the launch is “an expansion to an already existing package of assistance to the homeless” in the province.

This includes homeless shelters in regions; provision of daily meals for the homeless; social work services; link to skills development; substance abuse rehabilitation, and family reunification.

New lease on life

At shelters, homeless people are afforded an opportunity to learn skills, including basic computer skills, construction skills, including brick laying and agricultural skills.

A resident at a homeless shelter, Michael Rasebokoa, said the opportunities he gained at the shelter have given him the restart he needed.

Rasebokoa holds a Business Administration qualification but found himself homeless when he lost the job he had.

However, through a non-profit organisation at the shelter, he was linked to a new job opportunity.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that the Gauteng Department of Social Development has afforded me.

“The NPOs that are funded by the department has made it possible for me to secure a job. I am currently working as a Financial Advisor in Sandton,” Rasebokoa said. – SAnews.gov.za

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