MEC CEO Leona Pienaar (left-right) MMC Eunice Mgcina of the City of Johannesburg (COJ), Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) MEC Dr, Nomathemba Mokgethi interacting with former MES beneficiary and yet Managing Director of Hillbrewed Coffee co Tebogo Mabye (right) during a service delivery blitz at Impilo shelter for women.

In recognition of the value added by MES to the inner city and homeless community during Covid-19 lockdown, the Gauteng government has vowed to give first priority of intake in its various internship programmes, funding opportunities and other skills development courses to deserving individuals and graduates based at homeless shelters.

On Monday, the 14th of September 2020, MEC for Department of Social Development (DSD), Dr. Nomathemba Mokgethi, alongside MMC Eunice Mgcina of the City of Johannesburg (COJ) – visited MES’s Impilo shelter for women in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, on a service delivery blitz.

In collaboration with Gauteng Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) , Department of Health (DoH), National Development Agency (NDA), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and South African National Council on Alcohol And Drug Dependence (SANCA), this visit intended to explore sustainable strategies for incorporating homeless people back into mainstream society beyond the national lockdown.

The MEC and MMC got a chance to interact with MES Johannesburg’s Impilo and Ekhaya shelter beneficiaries, hear their stories; successes and challenges and chart a way forward that will be beneficial for everyone. Apart from committing herself in absorbing those qualified for internship programmes, MEC Mokegthi also vowed to work hand in glove by escalating the knitting and crochetting project started by the women at the shelter since the start of lockdown.

‘’We have seen the beautiful things that you do with your own hands. We are making a commitment that we’ll be coming back. We have also come up with a programme of sewing, I have discussed with the MMC. We can get a building like this where we can put our machines and all of you who are interested so that we can be of assistance as government,” said MEC Dr. Mokgethi.

The beneficiaries also got a chance to interact with the different stakeholders; some getting to register for the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant from SASSSA, apply for identity smart cards, as well as register with the Department of Labour for employment opportunities.

Leona Pienaar, CEO of Mould Empower Serve (MES) engages with the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) during a special visit to MES’ Impilo Shelter.

Meanwhile, MES has pleaded with City of Joburg (Coj) over the relatively exorbitant amount of municipal fees to be reduced and suitable for non-profit organisations such as MES.The NPO believes in breaking the culture of handouts. Before Covid the overnight shelter was operated on a small fee per night per bed. Due to Covid19 regulations this was no longer possible. MES stepped up to the challenge and waived the door fees and introduces meals and toiletry packs in addition. MES now calls on goverment to register the 20 yr old Ekhaya shelter as part of the service offering.

In order to restore dignity, MES believes the GROW Job Rehabilitation Programme will be key to bridge the gap between unemployment and employment.

The National Development Agency – NDA  promised to return to the shelter to interact further with the beneficiaries, help them set-up cooperatives and point them in the right direction for showcasing their skills.

”We are excited about the collaboration since homelessness is a complex challenge that need input from different government departments and the not for profit sector. Together we will be able to reduce homelessness and restore dignity,” says Pienaar.