New support programme for homeless in Obs

From left, are Carlos Filipe Mesquita, Dean Schroeder, Donavan Swartbooi, Gavin Abrahams, Carin Rhoode, Jonathan Williams, Rameez Kemp and Richie Jordan.

A new support programme for the homeless has been launched in Observatory.

The Homeless Hub is run by The Rehoming Collective, a non-profit company that owns the Our House and the Rainbow House shelters.

Our House in Burham Street is home to 40 homeless people and Rainbow House in Station Road has 24. It’s a five minute walk between the two.

The Rehoming Collective’s managing director, Carlos Filipe Mesquita, 52, says he started the organisation as he had spent five years living on the streets of Sea Point and Vredehoek.

“When I came out of homelessness, I wanted to help people come off the street,” he said.

The idea behind the organisation is to help re-home homeless people with dignity.

According to Mr Mesquita, the Homeless Hub, will help the homeless get IDs and driving licences, offer legal assistance and teach them skills such as sewing, beading, carpentry and hair braiding.

“These skills will increase if there is more community involvement,” said Mr Mesquita. “If anyone in the community would like to share their skills, they are welcome to do so.”

Another goal is for the homeless to use what they learn to teach others.

Carin Rhoode, 52, who lived on the streets near Gardens and De Waal Park, for ten years, runs the sewing programme.

“I believed that if I was empowered with skills, I would not have been 10 years on the street,” she said.

The Rehoming Collective relies on donations, and it gets support from the Yes We Can (YWC) South African Foundation, a Surrey Estate-based non profit organisation that teaches sewing and entrepreneurship to women and youth. It donated 15 sewing machines and materials for Homeless Hub sewing classes.

“We are enthusiastic that we can be part of the solution; we are hoping to empower the homeless people so that they can believe in themselves,” said YWC founder Mila Moreano.

The Observatory Community Improvement District (Obsid) and the Observatory Civic Association (OCA) support the initiative.

“We are excited about the positive opportunities that these initiatives could afford to the Observatory community,” said Obsid committee member Claire Everatt.

OCA chairman Leslie London said: “Homelessness and the insecurity of living on the streets are a wicked problem needing experienced and empathetic intersectoral approaches. We realise it is not an easy challenge, and we are hopeful that with our support and the support of Obsid, The Rehoming Collective will succeed in its mission.”

To support The Rehoming Collective, contact Mr Mesquita or Our House on Facebook or call 063 012 7902.

Carlos Filipe Mesquita is the managing director of The Rehoming Collective.