By Melodie Veldhuizen
Helping Hand focuses on promoting the self-development of people in their communities as a whole through social-based services, and to alleviate, terminate and prevent cultural, socio-emotional and physical poverty.
At the current time, more than ever before, there is a lot of pressure on the emotional, financial and physical well-being of individuals, families and communities. Solidarity Helping Hand’s Social Services department currently employs 15 social workers, two auxiliary social workers and two social worker interns stationed at the head office in Pretoria as well as in all the regions of the country.
Isabel Faurie, a social worker at Solidarity Helping Hand’s Social Services department, spoke about their role, work and activities. “We believe the key to the success of a community lies in community capability – everyone within a particular community has human potential and capabilities. Helping Hand’s social workers are regarded as agents of change in that they explore the God-given talents and gifts of communities through purposeful social community development programmes.”
Volunteers are the mainstay of Helping Hand. They establish branches throughout the country to address the need in their communities. They are often confronted by various social problems, and it is the job of the social workers to equip the valuable group of people with knowledge and skills to enable them to deal with difficult situations without burning out emotionally and physically.
Transparency: The team of social workers ensures that Helping Hand acts transparently and responsibly when providing assistance. We follow a thorough assessment process to ensure that support is provided to those in real need. In this way, donors’ funds and donations are used efficiently. The Solidarity Helping Hand Community Recovery Plan has been developed and the social workers of Helping Hand play an important role in implementing this plan. This plan focuses on the upliftment, development and training of our communities. Community forums are an example of how we help to establish structures to support communities.
Helping Hand’s work focuses on uplifting and developing the human potential of our vulnerable groups – children, families, people with disabilities and older people (senior citizens). We believe that this group of people should be assisted unconditionally. Here the social workers, with their expertise in many fields, play an invaluable role.
Children, young people and families: The social workers employed by Solidarity Helping Hand do not have statutory powers and therefore do not handle Children’s Court investigations in terms of the Children’s Act. However, we do have statutory expertise regarding the Children’s Act. Healthy networking relationships are therefore crucial, so that we can refer these matters to the organisations concerned quickly and efficiently. The social workers do provide support in the form of food parcels, school supplies, therapy and many more to these organisations. An exciting new section is the opening of Ons Sentrum in Pretoria where therapeutic services are provided to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for it. Parental guidance, the assessment of children to determine their therapeutic needs, as well as counseling with adults also take place here. Furthermore, the Social Services department offers various services such as the Help Hetta Project where sanitary ware is provided to needy girls and the social workers also provide information on relationships, hygiene and other topics of interest to teenage girls.
As far as services to older people (seniors) are concerned, we are involved in the care of seniors in residential institutions. One of the projects is the presentation of Senior Mind Moves for seniors, in collaboration with the Senior Mind Moves Institute. We are also involved in the Grendelgenoot project (Lockdown Companionship Project) whereby we strive, especially during the lockdown period during which seniors could not visit with their family, friends and children, and fewer activities were provided, to take care of the elderly’s emotional, mental and physical well-being by means of a weekly Grendelpakkie compiled by partners and experts in their respective fields. A Lockdown Companionship Guide full of creative ideas to take care of the emotional and mental well-being of the residents is also provided.
With regard to assistance to people with disabilities, we are involved in homes for people with disabilities. One of Helping Hand’s focus points is to provide sustainable support to people with disabilities. Some of our social workers also completed a sign language course and made a valuable contribution to the establishment of a volunteer branch for hearing impaired persons.