Friends of Valkenberg appealing for help

Volunteer hairdresser Francoise Viglietti teaching the patients hairdressing skills.

The Friends of Valkenberg Trust is appealing for ongoing support to help them cope with the pressure of the pandemic.

The Observatory non-profit started 27 years ago to help patients at the psychiatric hospital. It teaches patients hairdressing and skills they need to work in a shop on the hospital premises.

According to the organisation’s events manager, Gail Henry, they’ve been hard hit by the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 as many donors have cut back on funding.

“We had to dip into our small sustainability fund to ensure that we could sustain our operation and our work with people with mental health challenges,” she said.

The shop on the premises, The Friendly Shop, helps with both training and patients’ recovery. Staff and patients can buy cooked lunches, household appliances, toys, second-hand clothing and more at the shop.

“The profits of the shop helped the organisation to sustain its projects, and the lockdown impacted on the Friendly Shop’s ability to sustain its operations, and, like so many businesses, it ran at a loss,” Ms Henry said.

Even the hairdressing training stopped under lockdown.

Despite these setbacks, the organisation has a new barista-training programme, which started a month ago. “This project gave birth to the idea of creating a Friendly Coffee lounge for staff to come and relax away from the very stressful hospital environment,” Ms Henry said.

They are also raising money for flooring in a high-traffic part of the hospital; wallpaper for a feature wall; charging points for laptops; decor, including plants and rugs; and rails and shelves for the shop.

For Mandela Day, they are asking the public to donate R67 at a time or provide support with old clothes, books, magazines, non-perishable food or household goods.

Visit or email for more information.

Clothing sold at The Friendly Shop.