Providing opportunities for the Homeless
The NET is an holistic approach to managing street people. The underlying philosophy is “hand ups, not hand outs”. The NET works with homeless people to provide opportunities for them to transition off the street. We seek to empower individuals to take responsibility for their future through accountability and responsibility.
We acknowledge that not all individuals are able or want to leave the street, however, they should still be treated with dignity and given an opportunity to work for their needs rather than begging or given handouts.
The NET is representative of both the NET we cast out for people who have lost their way as well as the NETWORK we have established to work together as a community for common good.
Fish Hoek has a fishing background with a unique culture and diverse needs. Our approach is designed to meet the specific needs of Fish Hoek.
As a NET spans great areas and is knotted together, it is vital for this initiative to succeed, to have the support of Community working together to give responsibly rather than giving hand-outs on the street.
The Fish Hoek Homeless Conundrum
There is a growing number of homeless in Fish Hoek and much debate about why this is. To a large extent, the residents enable homelessness and begging by acquiesing to requests for food, clothing, blankets and money whether through direct or indirect begging. Those living on the street know that they have an excellent chance of getting clothing, money, and food simply by asking for it. This encourages a sense of entitlement, often manifesting in aggressive and demanding behavior (supplemented by drug abuse), and discourages them from leaving the area or rejoining society as productive residents.
Soup kitchens and feeding schemes also receive a portion of criticism and whilst The NET does not in itself distribute food in this manner, our belief is affirmed through the efforts of other NPOs and volunteers that the Homeless and Street people will not go hungry in Fish Hoek and that a large portion of money given by residents is spent on drug and alcohol abuse.
The NET propose addressing homelessness holistically, in order to reduce the number of people in the street and some of the negative connotations commonly associated with Street People.
We cannot force an addict to give up drugs and alcohol and likewise we cannot force homeless of the street, they need to want to make the change. This is unfortunately very scary for some of them as it represents change from what they are used to, no matter how bad the current status quo is.
We try to introduce normalcy such as eating a meal together at tables, providing crafts, access to nurses, trauma and drug counsellors and in some instances work opportunities. We desperately need the community to assist with giving opportunities for Community Service or work. This improves the self esteem of the individuals and removes the dependence on begging.
It is hoped that these interventions, and seeing others who were previously on the street, now changing their life will be attractive enough to convince others to make the change.
Carolyn Axmann has a background in Human Resources with a B Com HR, an Honours in Labour Law (Cum Laude) and recently completed her Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Cum Laude). She also has various certificates in leadership and coaching.
Her experience includes 17 years with Deloitte Accounting Firm as well as in the Engineering Sector, and the NGO arena working with Living Hope. She has also successfully managed a small business.