Teaming up to reach out

Covid-19 aid packages include fruit and vegetables, toilet paper and canned foods.

Volunteers are providing basic food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable households in Westlake.

Ward 71 councillor Penny East says several hundred households across her ward could go hungry during lockdown without help.

She put together a small group of volunteers to start providing a daily meal to the ward’s most vulnerable.

Its called the Covid-19 Disaster Response Programme.

Last week they reached 40 homes in Westlake and they intend to reach 120 homes in the following week and spread the aid to other parts of the ward.

On the team are Kirstenhof Residents’ Association chairwoman Carolynne Franklin; Xchange Connexion and Sharing Our Ubuntu Legacy (SOUL), two linked Tokai-based organisations that have worked in Westlake Village for several years; Westlake United Church Trust (WUCT); Amazing Grace Upliftment Centre, which works with vulnerable children in Westlake; Parkscape, an environmental non-profit; the Tokai Neighbourhood Crime Watch; the Tokai Residents’ Association; and the Zwaanswyk Association of Property Owners.

An oversight committee would ensure there was good governance, Ms East said.

SOUL, a trust and registered public benefit organisation, handles the accounting.

Ms Franklin said they had started setting up the programme after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown on Monday March 23.

WUCT already has an outreach programme with carers who are all trained health-care providers used to working with the elderly.

The programme helps child-headed houses, poor families living in back rooms and RDP homes, the elderly and single-parent households struggling to make ends meet.

According to Census 2011, 28.6% of child-headed households in Ward 71 live in shacks.

A triage system is prioritising the most needy.

“We tried to identify families in need across the ward. We have the red zone, which consists of families who would go to bed hungry if we didn’t supply them with a meal a day. Then we have the orange zone, which consists of people who maybe wouldn’t survive the week without help.” Ms Franklin said.

Ms East said: “We have a team of experienced community workers to do the work on the ground, and we have the suppliers ready to supply the very basic food-stuffs we require. Our issue is that we need to be able to pay for that food.”

The group delivers hygiene packages of hand wash, sanitisers, soap and toilet paper and food parcels of fruit, vegetables, pasta, samp, canned foods and more.

Hot food is not being distributed because of concerns about hygiene.

The volunteers wore masks and gloves as they made deliveries to homes last week.

One or two private donors had made some generous donations, but more was needed to keep the programme going and help more families, Ms Franklin said.

“The schools are also closed now so a lot of children aren’t getting their meals. They need assistance.”

Ms East said the lockdown would likely run beyond 21 days so more families would need aid.

As of Wednesday, South Africa had 1353 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 325 in the Western Cape. There have been five deaths.

“We need the public’s help; lots of it, over an extended period,” Ms East said.

“We would normally ask the public to contribute groceries, but the lockdown makes that impracticable and unsafe. So I am asking for money. And I appeal to you – whatever you can spare, whenever you can spare it.”

Email if you want to help.