|Dear Obs Journey friends,
Like many of you, we were shocked, saddened and very sorry to learn of the stabbing and death of a person on the Obs Village Green last week. Farzaan was like family to those in Obs who knew him. Our condolences to his family, friends and all others who cared for him.Unfortunately, the behaviours of some bystanders towards the first responders was a violation of safety in our community and is not acceptable.This week has seen another stabbing – the fifth violent incident involving people from the street-based community in the past 18 months – and serves to highlight that safety and security is an issue for all Observatory residents.
|Where We Are In The Obs Journey
The Obs Journey is stationary at the moment because we have not yet received a suitable proposal for an independent facilitator to assist in moving the journey on to the next stage. We will keep you updated on this process.With the lifting of the state of disaster by the government, it is more likely that law enforcement will start taking action within their mandates to address the situation of people living in public spaces.Where will street-based community members go?If there were a suitable place for people to move to, the Village Green could be repurposed for the benefit of all Observatory residents. Much effort has gone into trying to find a suitable location for street-based community members with no success so far. If you have ideas, please email us with your suggestions.We recognise that many in the street-based community have mental health issues, complex psycho social issues, familial issues and addiction issues that have caused them to live on the street. There are some, too, who would not want to move off the streets. However, this should not prevent a caring neighbourhood like Observatory, from trying to resolve the issue of street-based communities in a humane, creative and innovative manner.
|Some Good News
At the start of the first lockdown, 10 street-based community members, many from Observatory, stayed at New Hope SA at St. Peter’s Church in Mowbray, which turned its hall into a kind of hostel. Gino, one of this group, is now running a window cleaning business in the southern suburbs. He is self-sufficient and renting accommodation in Observatory – such a wonderful success story. If anyone would like their windows cleaned, he is the man! Do contact him at 081-061-9243 or [email protected].
|Now You Know: OBSID’s Social Development Programme
In our ‘hood, OBSID’s social development programme is focussed on providing support, advice, case management, referrals, access to healthcare and sheltered work opportunities to informally housed people. Specific activities include:
• installing public toilets for anyone who needs them
• working with TBHIV Care to register clients for safe needle exchange and opioid substitution therapy
• helping many clients access medical services and get the chronic medication they need to stay healthy
• helping people access shelters, obtain identity documents and open bank accounts.helping clients with family reunification, when they request it
• providing paid work opportunities, such as cleaning up locations in Obs
OBSID’s work programme has seen quite a few successes:
• since mid 2019, 17 people have enrolled in the programme, 8 are still enrolled and only 1 is still resident on the streets of Obs
• 2 participants have been ready to reunify with their families
• 4 are living in supportive housing
• 1 participant has secured her own accommodation
• 1 participant qualified for a SASSA grant and access to supportive housing and has since moved into his own accommodation, is rebuilding family relationships and entered into a small business venture
Be sure to visit OBSID’s website to learn more about its programming.
If you’re concerned about someone living informally, please contact OBSID’s Social Development Programme Coordinator, Vuyo Mbala, on 021 448 7090 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a good chance they’re already a client of their programme. If they’re not, by referring them, you’re helping them responsibly.
|Please feel welcome to email us with any thoughts, advice or suggestions.
This is The Obs Journey – until the next time!