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Host a training group in your church, school, work or college. 

This training is broken up into 2 sections:

1.) An introduction to shelters & rehabilitation. Followed by next steps and resources. 

2.) A workshop where you will go through 6 scenarios and how to respond in each one. 

Introduction - why we want to help.

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

“And I think that's what our world is desperately in need of - lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.” ― Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical


1.) Shelters - how they work.

  • They are temporary.

  • They cost money.

  • They have rules.

1.) Intake:

  • Clients are required to be screened by a social worker before they get accepted - it's at the social worker's discretion whether they will be accepted into the shelter.

  • It’s suggested that for best results a client should go to the shelter between Monday and Friday from 9am - 12pm. If the social worker is not present then there can be no intake.

  • If the have a heroin/tik addiction or suffer from mental illness the shelter will most likely not accept them as they do not have the resources to cope with such people.

  • If the substance abuse is not as acute the social worker will accept them on condition that they attend an outpatient rehabilitation.

  • One should refer potential clients to the nearest shelter for a screening. From there the person will be referred to the nearest shelter with available beds for an assessment and longer term placement on condition that a Personal Development Plan has been agreed between the client and the Social Worker. No PDP = no hospitality.

  • Shelters such as Malmesbury and others outside of the CBD to accept an intake report to assess whether that person will be accepted - this will prevent the client from going all the way to the shelter and then not being accepted.

  • It cost R13 for a train ticket from Cape Town to Malmesbury Station.

2.) Fees:

  • On average shelters charge around R360 a month if you are unemployed and R700+ if you are employed or on a social/disability grant.

  • Some shelters require a portion or the whole monthly fee to be paid upfront. This is however been overturned by Hassan Khan, the CEO of the Haven who has said that they first 2 weeks will always be free.

  • They operate MONTHLY meaning that they do not ask for money each night or even each week. Be aware of people telling you that they need money for a shelter that night. Especially over 6pm as most shelters have a curfew around that time.

3.) What you get:

  • Clients are only allowed to stay for 3 months - maximum 6 months. However, there are some cases where people have lived in a shelter for years.

  • If accepted, they will normally receive a toiletry/sanitary pack, a bed/blanket/pillow, a locker and 2 meals each day (breakfast and dinner).

4.) Curfews:

  • Most shelters are night shelters meaning that all the clients have to leave between 6am -  8am and can return from 4pm - 6pm.

  • 1st and 2nd phase shelters have curfews meaning that you have to make arrangements with the supervisors and staff should you be working late or come back late.

5.) Rules, Duties, Codes & Conduct:

  • Every time a client has an issue or need they have to fill in a client relations form - this will be handed to the supervisor and then to the social worker.

  • 3 strikes and you’re out. Some things that are considered a strike:

    • Missing a night without prior consent.

    • Being intoxicated.

    • Fighting, Verbal Abuse or Deformation.

    • Not doing your chores/responsibilities.

    • Not paying your shelter fees.


2.) Rehabilitations: How they work

3 types of rehabilitations:

  • Public Inpatient Rehabs

  • Public Outpatient Rehabs

  • Private Inpatient Rehabs

1.) Public Inpatient

  • Usually 30 - 32 days maximum.

  • They require a discharge facility such as 2nd phase shelter or tertiary rehabilitation.

  • Quite a clinical approach - not really family or home orientated.

  • Usually requires a medical and dental form to be filled in. This form needs to be filled in by a doctor/nurse at a clinic or hospital. It’s up to the client to get this filled and brought back. They also need a full admissions form with detailed information on substance abuse and history, personality, family and relationships, financial status and home environment.

  • Some require a small admission fee.

2.) Outpatient centres

  • Usually just requires an admissions form and and interview.

  • Most run in 4 - 12 week cycles. A patient can only join at the beginning of a cycle. They usually run from 9am - 2pm and include a small bite to eat.

3.) Private Rehab

  • Family and holistic environment.

  • Medical check and application form required.

  • Patient-led recovery time. (no time limit)

  • Expensive but affordable. Average around R4500 per month.

  • Excellent referrals to tertiary care facilities.

  • 1 on 1 feedback and reports.

3.) Next steps:

  • Take time to get the know the person as much as possible. Build and maintain a strong relationship.

  • Over time you’ll be able to assess whether a person needs a shelter or rehabilitation.

  • Protect yourself from manipulation and ‘false emergencies’. The situation will always seem like it needs to be remedied immediately, however use discernment to identify whether things can take time.  

  • Make sure the person is ready. Wrongful or ill timed placement can cause negative perceptions of shelters and rehabilitations. Do not force anyone to go to a shelter or rehabilitation.

  • Be informed on how shelters and rehabilitations work.


  • Find out which shelter they would like to move into. Often there will be issues with joining a shelter that is too far away from work/opportunities. Sometimes the opposite occurs where they want to get as far away from Cape Town as possible.

  • Explain the general rules and requirements for joining a shelter. (Fees, Length of Accommodation, Rules etc…) This protects someone entering into shelters from false promises and ‘glorified’ perceptions which will ultimately cause disappointment.

  • Phone the shelter to see if there is available bed space.

  • Advise on a day and time for them to visit the shelter and follow up with the shelter if they arrived.

  • If you’re able to afford the first month of shelter fees then it’s a great blessing for them to settle and start saving money for the 2nd month.



  • If they require outpatient treatment then give them an admissions form to fill in.

  • Once the admissions form is filled in phone the rehabilitation and find out when the next cycle is - and then inform the client when they will start.

Public Inpatient

  • If they require inpatient treatment then give them a medical & dental form to fill in.

  • Once they bring back the form you can fill in a admissions form with them.

  • Send the forms to the treatment centre and enquire about the fee and inform them that they are a state patient. Try and get an admission date.

  • Communicate any information received to the client.

Private Inpatient

  • If the finances are available for private rehab then phone to see bed space availability.

  • Send person to doctor for medical checkup.

  • Liaise with the rehabilitation about the detox process - usually with Stikland Hospital in Bellville.

  • Book transport to the facility.

  • Communicate any information received to the client.

4.) Helpful resources:

There are many organisations that are helping the homeless and it’s
always great to expand your knowledge on who is doing what. Here is a list of organisations and
what they do.

Uturn: U-turn has developed a phased rehabilitation process. The best way to get into the rehabilitation program is to start at the bottom and work your way up. If you therefore want to help a street person to get onto the U-turn program, buy the person a U-turn voucher and send them to our first phase services.
The U-turn staff that run these programs are skilled to encourage individuals to consider the first step of rehabilitation which is to move off the street and into a shelters. If you really want to go further than that, you can write a reference letter and send that with the person, giving information such as how long you’ve known the person, salient highlights of their life story, evidence of substance abuse or not, work experience that you are aware of etc. This is all very helpful information to us as we try to help individuals consider further rehabilitation options.

Straatwerk: Ophelp Projekte Projekte are not job creation activities. They are a bundle of habilitation programmes for people who are not yet able to act productively and responsibly.
These projects help desperate and destitute individuals to earn cash in hand, by means of honest and hard work, as an alternative to aggressive begging, theft or other criminal activities. Important life skills are learnt and put into practice. While areas are cleared of rubbish and other undesirable objects, undesirable issues and circumstances are also purged from the streets, from people’s lives and from the community. They are also encouraged to become disciples of Jesus and join a disciple group. We call these interventions the “school of life”.

Jubilee Health Centre: operates out of Jubilee Centre 4 days a week, offering medical care, physiotherapy, HIV testing and counseling and crisis pregnancy counseling. There is a R10 charge to see the Doctor, Nurse & Physio. Counselling remains free. For more information or to book an appointment please call 021 447 3630 during office hours.

Opening hours:
Mon 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 3:30pm (Open for counseling only)
Tues 10am-1pm (Come before 10am to be seen)
& 2pm – 3:30pm (Appointments)
Wed 10am – 1pm (Come before 10am to be seen)
Thur Closed
Fri 10am – 1pm (Come before 10am to be seen)
& 2pm – 3:30pm (Appointments)


Here are 6 scenarios that someone might find themselves in. If you're hosting a training evening then it's a good idea to let the attendee's answer these questions before you give our suggested answer.  

Every situation and every person should be treated uniquely - there are no textbooks when it comes to these scenarios. These are merely just suggested answers and are asked to stimulate conversation and action. If you have any suggestions of an alternative answer please suggest it in the comment section below. 

 1.) A person walks into your church/work/school and starts going from person to person asking for money. How do you help in a dignifying way?

Many people get uncomfortable or angry that someone is asking people for money. It's important to not let these feelings play a role in how you respond. It's always helpful to know that this person may be a victim of something out of their control (A fire that has burnt down their house, an abusive relationship which has forced them to leave, etc...) Make sure that you are gentle and humble in what you say. Try and find why the money is being asked for - usually there us a deeper issue such as a need for transport, food or shelter. It's best to try and help with the need of money than give money itself. 

2 ) For a couple of months you’ve been chatting to a man who lives on the streets and he asks you to assist him in getting into a shelter. What are your next steps?

Many people who live on the streets do not like living in shelters or feel they are not suited to live in a shelter. The fact that someone is asking for help to live in one is a great step forward. It's important to ask where this person would like to live as there are many shelters all over the Western Cape. Once a shelter has been decided upon it's sometimes helpful to phone the shelter and find out if there is bed availability and what time the social worker will be in for a possible intake. The shelter will confirm whether there is space available and has hopefully has suggested a time for that person to come in. Relay this information back to the person and encourage them to make their way to the shelter at the time suggested. If you would like to offer them a lift or provide transport that is entirely up to you. 

3 ) Your group of friends visit one of the Haven Night Shelters once a month and a woman called "Ruth" you’ve been seeing asks if you can help her into a rehabilitation. How should you help her?

Whenever you're in an organisation that has an existing social worker you should always aim to work alongside them. Perhaps send the social worker an email stating that "Ruth" has asked you for help and you'd like to assist by filling in some of the rehabilitation forms or by assisting "Ruth" with a lift to a doctor to get a medical form filled out. You can also contribute to the admission fees and support her when she gets into the rehabilitation. 

4 ) A young boy (age 11) comes to your car door as you are leaving the grocery store. He asks you for some money so he can buy some food. What should you do?

Should a child be residing on the street and wants help to leave the street you can assist them by taking them to the closest police station and making an affidavit stating the situation and circumstances of the child. Should it be within working hours you can then take the child accompanied with the affidavit to the child protection organization working in the area that the child was found. The child protection organization will then be able to place the child in safe care or assist with returning them home. Should it be out of working hours, the police on duty at the local station will be able to phone the ‘afterhours service’ and they will send a social worker to remove the child and place them in temporary safe care.

Should a family be residing on the street with their children, making an affidavit and assisting them the Child protection organization working in their area would be the best option. A social worker will then conduct an investigation and depending on the outcome assist the parents into moving off of the street or remove the child to place in temp. safe care while working with the parents.

5 ) You are walking on the Sea Point promenade and an elderly man (age 68) is sitting on the grass with a sign that says he is looking for help. Do you help him and how do you go about doing it?

When you assist a person that is older than the age of 60 your opportunities open up immensely.  Find out whether this gentleman has a SASSA pension and if so you'll be able to apply at any of these institutions. If he does not have a SASSA grant and has his South African ID then you can assist him in his application for SASSA grant here.  If he does not have a South African ID then you assist him into the nearest home affairs and he'll be able to apply for one there. 

6 ) On your way home from a night out in Long Street you walk past a woman who is crying on the pavement. You ask her if there’s anything you can help with and she tells you that she is a sex worker and wants help to find another job. How do you help her?

We strongly advise that you get in touch with S.W.E.A.T - they have excellent resources and staff to assist someone who is currently or previously working as a sex worker. Their services include:

Access to trained sex worker peer educators who reach sex workers where they work and live on outreach. Peer educators are trained to offer basic human rights, health advice and can conduct basic screening on violence, drug and alcohol addiction as well as general psychosocial wellness.

Access to mobile health clinics. We provide condoms and lubricant and promote safer sex practices.

Referrals to sex work friendly services. We refer sex workers to clinic settings where we have established relationships. Where sex workers need help, a trained Peer Educator will accompany the sex worker to the service.

Legal advice and referrals for legal representation. We partner with legal services like the Women’s Legal Centre that offer more in-depth legal counselling.

Psycho-social support including counselling through our 24-hour toll free Help Line which also operates a please-call-me service cost-free to the client.

Support Groups for sex workers arranged around relevant themes.

Parental support – support for sex workers who are parents to enable more skilled parenting and to assist sex workers who have young children.

Training for service providers to ensure that sex workers who seek help receive stigma free services with good levels of knowledge on the challenges they face.


Have a suggested question or want to give an alternative answer? Fill in the form below.

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