Unemployed people are given an opportunity to earn some income by working a daily 3 hour shift, cleaning a certain area of the city. A partner contract us to clean a certain area. Although the program doesn't make money, it enables us to (1) assist participants to earn some money; (2) participants "learn" again to work for a couple of hours; (3) they attend a weekly life skills session to prepare for the formal job-environment. They ideally have to exit after a couple of months to a formal job. And the environment gets cleaned.
What skills and resources were you able to draw from the community for this project?
The 20+ business owners who have come alongside of us, has enabled us to not only sustain this program, but also to grow it over time. A couple of individual business leaders have gone even further and became actively involved in the strategizing and planning of the program. They served us with their energy and passion to take the program to new levels. People (i.e. different businesses as well as poor and unemployed people) have started to work together and collaborate on a larger issue. The general good-will amongst a large number of businesses as well as poor and unemployed people towards Towers of Hope (because of our ‘brand’) has made these collaborative efforts possible.
Many business owners are frustrated with a polluted environment that is not conducive to attracting customers and growing a business, with the local municipality not being able to deliver. The high levels of unemployment and hopelessness amongst the urban poor. Thus, to enable unemployed people to earn some money, and help them to prepare for the formal job-environment, while at the same time making a difference in the immediate environment and attracting businesses as partners.
Addressing the challenges
Since its inception in 2012 no less than 25 men have been able to move on to jobs in the formal job-environment. Although some of them has again lost those jobs, is surely made a difference in their lives. Many of the businesses involved as sponsors / partners in the program, has been with us for quite a number of years. It does make a difference for them - i.e. the designated areas (as they required) are kept in a good state, and they know they are helping creating income and opportunities for unemployed people.
At the present moment there are 17 different areas / teams where the PCB program operates (sponsored by businesses and / or certain individuals), with another 3 areas being cleaned and sponsored as the need arises, and 5 areas / teams discontinued over the last 7 years through a variety of reasons. Over the last 5 years no less than 25 participants of the PCB program have been able to enter the formal job-environment and secure full time jobs – with the majority still sticking to the particular job. In March 2015 we launched a specialized team who, by means of a high pressure water hose rid the city of illegal and vulgar posters which have been degrading the public space in our city for far too long. In 2013 this program was awarded a 2nd prize in the social enterprise category of the Free State enterprise Job Creation Challenge.