Tag Archives: MES team

Helping The Homeless To Build A Sustainable Future

Mahatma Gandhi said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, as South Africans, we are desensitised in part to the poverty that permeates our ordinary lives. Used to the sight of the radical impact our ever-expanding gap between the haves and have nots creates. While many of us want to help, most are uneducated on the extraordinarily complex issues that create and sustain homelessness. 

Due to our own basic understanding of these ever-evolving issues, it makes a greater difference when we partner with and give back to organisations equipped with the infrastructure, skill and experience to combat homelessness and help in a sustainable way.

“Handouts of cash given to desperate – often mentally ill people – add fuel to the same addictions that put them on the streets. Institutions such as our partners at MES have spent decades building, perfecting and maintaining the social infrastructure to efficiently maximise the impact of our donations and the results are inarguable,” says Jaco Wessels, COO of our appointed urban management company Geocentric.  

Here are our top recommendations of non-profit organisations active in 2022 and how to  contribute to their vision responsibly:


MES Cape Town is a pivotal partner in efforts to sustainably rehome the homeless in many City Improvement Districts. Their extensive network of strong outreach and social relief programmes allows them to provide the reach and resources that our CID requires. They also have a reactive help desk to assist us whenever necessary to meets the immediate and short-term needs of the homeless and unemployed community. 

We work with MES extensively to source the individuals that we require as casual labour for project-specific work.  The experts at MES also scout out individuals who show promise and then place them with us every week. For those who show dedication, we offer the opportunity to be absorbed on a probationary basis as one of our workers a.k.a our Green Ants. We then provide opportunities for all our Green Ants to become supervisors, further their training and grow into an integral part of our workforce. 

To ensure that the funds they generate with us are put to good use,  we pay their stipend directly to MES. Who use it to cover the cost of their living expenses sustainably until the end of their stay. 

To get in touch, call them on +27 21 949 8736 or send an email to info@mes.org.za.

Visit their website to donate here.

Here are some tips on how you can help responsibly:

  • Donate directly to a registered and legitimate NGO in your area. Your donations do not have to be monetary either so be on the lookout for clothing items, towels, tents, blankets, pillows, bags or non-perishable groceries for institutions such as FoodForward SA.
  • Support charities and campaigns by advocating to prevent homelessness on social media. By following and sharing posts of organisations such as Women’s Shelter Movement, Ons Plek and Youth Solutions Africa you help grow their followings and advocate their cause.
  • Volunteer your time or professional skills. Everyone from the accountants among us to the karate teachers has a unique offering that can improve the lives of those less fortunate – so ask your local charities how you may dedicate your skill to improving their offering.  

Since the ratio of people in need of help, and the help available, is so unbalanced many NGOs and NPOs are left with tight funds to run the businesses themselves. By donating your, time, skill, possessions or money in a responsible way you not only help make our district a safer space but provide our homeless residents with the chance to rekindle a sense of pride, community, and dignity. 

Facelift for Salt River forms part of upliftment plan

As initially set out in the business plan of the SRBID, the work of the SRBID includes urban beautification.  After initially focusing on crime and grime the SRBID reached a stage where some of the urban beautification projects could be launched.

Here’s a quick update on two of the programmes:

Poster removal and painting

Many of the lamp posts and street sign posts in Salt River had been very old and had either become rusted or had simply not received a coat of paint for far too long – until a team from the GROW Job and Life Rehabilitation Programme, employed by the Salt River CID, got stuck in and started introducing the much needed cosmetic touch-up operations.

GROW (‘God Restores Our World’) is the job rehabilitation programme of MES (Mould, Empower, Serve), a country-wide organisation which in turn has the vision ‘To change the heart of the city’ and the mission ‘To empower people holistically to live independent, sustainable and meaningful lives.

According to the MES website, the GROW Job and Life Rehabilitation Programme creates shift opportunities where cash is earned for work done, whilst being part of a coaching and developmental programme. It provides the homeless and unemployed community an alternative to aggressive begging and petty crime.

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Participants in the programme are enabled by earning an honest income in cash, to restore their dignity, buy their meals from the MES canteen, pay for overnight shelter accommodation, apply for ID’s and even save.

In turn, GROW teaches participants to be diligent and disciplined, as well as empowering them with the skills to seek employment. The GROW programme is primarily supported through the occupational services provided to clients such as the respective CID’s.

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In terms of the MES principles and the universal application of the Social Work Action Team concept, Geocentric offers this shift employment by using work teams for the beautification of CID’s. In the case of Salt River the teams are used predominantly for graffiti removal and for the painting of lamp posts and street sign poles. Many of the poles had also been defaced by illegal posters. “So, using specialised paint and our SWAT team, we have beautified all these elements,” says Geocentric general manager Ralph van der Brock. “The result is a clean and well maintained urban environment.”

Greening projects

Cape Town is currently experiencing one of worst and longest droughts and this would ordinarily place a halt to all beautification that include landscaping and greening initiatives.

However, Management company Geocentric decided to continue with beautification through the use of “potted gardens” rather than traditional landscaping work.

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Large concrete pots were sourced from local suppliers in Maitland and placed at various locations in the SRBID

By grouping a number of these large planters together the impression of a potted garden was created.  These pots are easy to maintain and even easier to keep watered – the contained environment makes it easy to keep the plants green with limited water resources.


Combining this with some hardy plants a beautiful green spot can be created.

Geocentric invested in a large number of water storage tanks before the recent winter months and harvested more than 80 000 liters of water during the limited rains that fell during the winter months


Now, using our custom built water truck, we are able to water our potted gardens with rain water harvested earlier in the year thereby sustaining our greening projects.  We have competed three such projects in SRBID already and plan to do the next project in Yew Street Park