Welcome to 2018! We've hit the road running and have some exciting news below. The last update was on the 13th of December and we have a solid month and a half worth of stories and events.
St Peter's Community Dinners
We had our strategy meeting last week Thursday to discuss what we're going to do differently this year at our dinners. The first and biggest change is that we're going to try minimize the divide between 'inside' and 'outside'. Often new volunteers would bypass the wait outside and make their way directly to the backdoor kitchen whilst everyone else would wait eagerly outside for the doors to open. The easiest way to bridge the gap between the 'insiders' and 'outsiders' is to open up the doors earlier and allow for there to be a consistent transition of guests into the hall rather than a big, congested rush at 6:30pm. New volunteers will be encouraged to simply be guests first, without having the pressure or status of serving. Our aim for the dinners is to encourage mutual transformation and equalize power - if we truly are to believe that then we are to try and treat every new person as guests regardless if you're coming to 'serve' or be part of the meal. This will hopefully also encourage those who come as guests to be actively involved in the serving.
New Hope People
It's with great pleasure to announce that Rudolph's funding came through from The Paternoster Trust and that he has started his comprehensive welding course at Swift Skills Academy. He is currently staying at Switch Wellness Centre where he is continuing his recovery and is now almost 14 months clean from heroin and opioids.
Charles met us at Community Dinners and after a few months decided he was ready to go to rehabilitation to try and overcome his 40 year alcohol addiction. It was a wobbly start and there were a few trail and errors but eventually he made it into Stikland Hospital for his detox. It was a 3 week stint at Stikland and just before Christmas he was admitted to Inner Peace. After a month at Inner Peace he felt he had enough in-patient recovery and discharged himself to seek an independent life. He is now living with his sister and mother in the Free State and is still sober and looking for meaningful employment. Despite Charles going against our advice for prolonged recovery he is doing well and remaining sober.
Back in May 2017 we helped John in Beth Rapha Recovery Home after a failed attempt in Retreat Haven Night Shelter. He lasted about 10 days and went back to the streets. Despite this we continued meeting with him at Community Dinners and one of our volunteers, Andy, met up with him outside of Thursday evenings. After many conversations and around 9 months of drug abuse, street living and mental illness he decided that he wants to go back to in-patient recovery. There was an internal debate whether he needed to be admitted to Stikland Hospital for detox as he was using a 1/4 bag heroin a day which is possible to detox at Inner Peace. It was decided that if he could be declared medically fit for rehabilitation and could get a prescription of suboxone and diazepam then they could do the detox at Inner Peace. Unfortunately we were very naive and short-sighted as we gave this medication to John on the bus up to Inner Peace - he took 10 pills and overdosed on the bus - luckily they were able to get him to Prince Albert Hospital and stabilized him. 2 days later he was discharged and admitted into Inner Peace where he is doing well.
In November last year we assisted Robert into Stikland Hospital for detox and then transferred him to Inner Peace for in-patient recovery. We worked with Ferdinando's Pizza in making sure everything was communicated clearly and that he was transported safely into detox and treatment. He is set to graduated from Inner Peace this month after 3 months of in-patient recovery and will be transferred to Loaves and Fishes in Observatory. He has done extremely well and has really embraced recovery - he will be attending The Zanokhanyo Network's job readiness course and hopefully we be able to find meaningful employment within the next couple of months. Ferdinando's are also committed to ensuring he continues his recovery and can successfully take steps towards independence.
Jonathan* & Alfred*
They both successfully graduated from Inner Peace and are on opioid substitution therapy (Methadone) but are slowly weening themselves off every month. We are hoping that this will be their last month on methadone and they can be completely free of opioids. Both of them are at Switch Wellness Centre in Belville and are both seeking employment.
Jonathan has got his PDP and has registered with Taxify. He is now looking for a company to work for so he can start earning money and moving towards independence. He is also slowly reconnecting with his family.
Alfred has been able to secure continuing employment in construction for the next few weeks. He has been offered a poor salary for his work and experience, and is keeping his ears open for other opportunities elsewhere. He had some SSRI medication stolen this week, and despite not having had his medication, stayed calm in a number of situations that he would have reacted with extreme anger to in the past. It's clear that he's forming good relationships at Switch and being a support to others in the house. He indicated that he has therapy material from his time at Inner Peace and he intends to continue with that therapy on his own, as much as that will be possible. He has expressed some interest in welding training which I understand he has been re-engergised to do, having met Rudolph and heard what we have done for him. I encouraged him to seek out training opportunites for the types of welding his wanting training on, and to forward those details to me. He has re-engaged with one of his brothers after a lapse of four years, and is hopeful of visiting his family in Gauteng (including an alcoholic mother) sometime this year, if things go well for him. He is attending Hillsong church, too, on Sundays. He is happy to continue paying for medication out of his own pocket, as he is working, but he is some way away from affording rent payments, as well.
We kick off our dinners this Thursday and are excited to try out some new things. Unfortunately our funding has remained the same and our waiting list is growing. We are trying to fast track our NPO registration so that we can seek corporate funding with tax breaks. We have our first official board meeting for 2018 on the 4th of February and Richard is attending the Street People's Forum on the 1st of February. We are also in talks with Observatory Civic Association regarding future partnerships with them which is exciting. Happy 2018 everybody!