Providing street people a pathway out of homelessness, Mi-change vouchers were recently launched by U-turn in partnership with Mould Empower Serve (MES).
With its head office in Kenilworth, U-turn, a registered Christian non governmental organisation (NGO), operates a phased approach that includes rehabilitation from substance abuse, counselling, life-skills training and work placement in one of its social enterprises.
Founded in 1997, U-turn pioneered vouchers as a way to responsibly give to people in need on the streets of Cape Town over 10 years ago.
MES, a Christian integrated social development organisation, has been actively working towards providing sustainable solutions to pervasive poverty in the inner cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Kempton Park since 1986.
This organisation too has used vouchers successfully in the past.
With the launch of the Mi-change vouchers, the two organisations hope to give even more street people access to a development programme with professional support and rehabilitation services.
Previously, U-turn vouchers were only redeemable at U-turn service centres.
Mi-change vouchers can be redeemed at any U-turn or MES service centre in Cape Town, which means they can assist more people in more locations across the city, including the northern and southern suburbs, and the Southern Peninsula.
Rowen Ravera-Bauer, chief communications officer at U-turn, says many people tend to respond to homelessness reactively, either by giving cash or with a cup-of-soup-and-a-blanket approach.
“This creates dependency and chronic homelessness. When a person redeems the voucher for one of the services offered at accredited Mi-change service providers, they also access support services, rehabilitation, skills development, work opportunities and more,” says Ravera-Bauer.
The Mi-change service providers offer one or more of a range of services, including meals, clothing, a shower, toiletries, a bed for the night in a safe space, or a blanket.
Some of these services, such as a bed for the night, require two vouchers and depends on the availability of beds.
The Mi-change vouchers cost R50 for a pack of four and can be bought from a number of shops (see www.michange.org for a map of participating retailers) or online.