Stellumthombo, a Stellenbosch based non-profit foundation, through one of its charity programmes, Straatlig, aims to aid the Stellenbosch homeless population by means of a coupon project. Straatlig collaborated with Heartflow and Stellenbosch Night Shelter to keep Stellenbosch’s dwellers fed, sheltered and warm.
Ruben Scheepers, managing director of Stellumthombo, said the concept of the project came from a street dweller Stellumthombo helped who made them realise the need for coupons. Coupons eliminate the temptation the homeless might have when handling money, especially if they struggle with addiction or manage money irresponsibly. Straatlig was founded in 2004 by a student and started their coupon project in 2016 withthe help of Heartflow.
Approximately 4000 coupons have been issued since January this year. Coupons cost R10 and can be bought at participating businesses and residences. They don’t expire. Once purchased and given to someone in need, a coupon can either be traded in for a blanket at Straatlig’s offices, or for a meal that can be collected at the Bergvliet taxi rank, or a night’s stay at the Stellenbosch Night Shelter.
Scheeper said, “[Public response] initially was very slow, but now it’s been amazing.” Scheepers shared their goal for the project to become an alternative economy, which empowers instead of simply giving money which robs homeless people of an opportunity rather than providing them with one.
“We had a stall in [Eikestad Mall] on Mandela Day and we approached people to ask whether they are aware of the coupon project and a lot of people were. It became part of the normal way of doing things in Stellenbosch which is what we wanted” Scheepers said.