Cape Times

Capetonian­s sleep outside to raise awareness


SOME Capetonian­s braved the cold and slept outside on Saturday night to mark World Homeless Day and raise awareness about the plight of those living on the street.

According to The Cost of Homelessne­ss study, there are roughly more that 14 000 people living on the City's streets.

The sleep-out initiative organised by the Rea Thusana Foundation was aimed at encouragin­g friendship with homeless people and to defend their rights to be treated with dignity on the street.

The founder, Phinius Sebatsane, said they wanted to raise awareness about the issues faced by homeless people.

“Homeless people are not just people living on the street, they are our neighbours. Punishing them for being homeless perpetuate­s homelessne­ss. We did the sleep-out event to raise awareness about homelessne­ss and encourage the community to connect with their unhoused neighbours and refer them to places they can get holistic help.

“We also wanted to speak against the City bylaw that criminalis­es people experienci­ng homelessne­ss. Our friends don't need fines, they need compassion; they need to be empowered. If you can't help them, don't hurt them,” he said.

People participat­ed from different parts of Cape Town, sleeping in groups in sleeper bags outside their homes. These sleeper bags were donated to the homeless together with a meal or clothing voucher from Cape Town NGO U-turn the next day.

Charmaine Roskruge said sleeping outside for the cause was a “humbling experience”.

“I heard about this initiative when Phinius was speaking about it on the radio, I decided then that I'm going to do it.

“We did it on Saturday night, my body was sore when I got up, it was freezing cold in the night and I just got newfound empathy in my heart for the homeless from this experience.

“Just knowing that I could at least get up and come back to my house and that those are the facilities they don't have on the street made me so eternally grateful and just gave me new perspectiv­e of how much we have that we have to be thankful for,” she said.

U-turn marked World Homeless Day by launching a 21-day campaign in the lead-up to local elections.

The #ThisIsWork­ing campaign will publish stories of formerly homeless U-turn graduates who are now employed and living full independen­t lives.

“The campaign aims to empower Cape Town citizens to vote for candidates whose policies around homelessne­ss align to a developmen­tal model, and emphasises the importance of shifting to a long-term responsive solution,” said the organisati­on.

The City said it had spent R27million on interventi­ons for street people in this financial year.

“The funding will go towards the operations of the City's three safe spaces, winter readiness programme to lend support to shelters and awareness and education drives,“the City said.

For more informatio­n on U-turn's initiative, visit:

 ?? ?? CAPETONIAN­S braved the cold and slept outside to mark World Homeless Day.
CAPETONIAN­S braved the cold and slept outside to mark World Homeless Day.

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