Volunteers lending a helping hand

The Diep River and Plumstead CAN supports the Lavender Hill CAN's food programmes.

Neighbourhood volunteers from Plumstead and Diep River are helping to get food and shopping vouchers to vulnerable families during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The CAN (Community Action Network) project started through the Cape Town Together Facebook page before the lockdown.

The page encouraged ordinary people to respond to the pandemic by seeing to the non-medical needs of vulnerable people in their communities.

There are now Can groups of volunteers in some 70 suburbs across Cape Town. They organise themselves and collect food and donations for the needy.

Valerie Anderson, from the DiepRiver/PlumsteadCan, said City food parcels to the needy mostly contained staples and no fresh produce or dairy
needed for good nutrition.

So the Can is getting people to donate R250 supermarket vouchers families can use to fill out
the food parcels and also buy other essentials such as electricity and baby-care items.

Typically, the Can hears where the need is from the ward councillor or word of mouth.

The group has also asked neighbourhood watches, churches and mosques to identify those in need, and it is also looking for local charities to work with.

Over the past two weeks, the Can has helped 20 households.

People use Computicket to buy the R250 shopping vouchers, which the Can then gives to those in need.

“We know that food security has always been a problem,” Ms Anderson said, “but now there are contract workers, people who rely on piece jobs and also some families who have that one family member that they rely on who is now not working due to the lockdown. The neighbours are
seeing an increasing number of people running out of food.
We’re trying to help as much as we can.”

Some Cans in more well-off areas are helping those in poorer communities.

The Diep River/ Plumstead Can works with the Lavender Hill Can to get donations to the Lavender Six, a project by six groups giving daily meals to the neighbourhood’s needy, and Learning in Reach, which is feeding children.

“It’s currently more of a crisis response,” Ms Anderson said.

“Last week, we got a request for a woman from Lavender Hill who’s
feeding about 150 kids every morning. We were able to donate a gas stove.

“The power of collaboration is working together towards a common goal to achieve what we cannot accomplish alone.”

Email valerie.duffield@gmail.com for more information about how you can get involved.