Help for Fisher Centre a boost

Belinda September and Lynne Anthony from Georgie's Angels with Surgrie Naidoo from Fisher Home.

Georgie’s Angels, a non-profit organisation in Lotus River, extended a helping “wing” to the Fisher Centre, a home for the mentally challenged, in Grassy Park, by arranging for the donation of 45 smoke alarms worth R65 000 and the installation.

This initiative came about after Lynne Anthony, spokesperson for Georgie’s Angels who regularly feed the residents in Phumlani, Egoli, Jim se Bos and other informal settlements, read an article in Southern Mail about the Fisher Centre being in dire need of financial assistance (“Residents, staff, fear Fisher Centre may shut doors”, September 28 2016).

Ms Anthony said she had been sitting at an optometrist just around the corner from the Fisher Centre in Victoria Road, when she saw the story.

She went to visit the manager Surgrie Naidoo to find out more about their needs.

Ms Anthony said she sent out emails to many companies and only one responded, offering to install smoke detectors.

“We are also looking at the centre’s other needs,” said Ms Anthony.

“We read their wish list which includes groceries and toiletries, but I organised some curtains for them.”

Ms Anthony said Georgie’s Angels regularly visit the home to check up on what they need.

In order for the Fisher Centre to get financial support from the Department of Social Development, they needed to be a registered NGO and one of the criteria for this is that their facility needs to be fire compliant, said Ms Naidoo.

Although they are functioning with the help of social grants received by the almost 50 patients housed at the home, it is not enough to cover their expenses.

This includes R26 961 for rent, R12 000 to R15 000 for water and electricity and R25 000 to
R28 000 for salaries a month, said Ms Naidoo.

“We are grateful for Georgie’s Angels for their huge gesture as it’s a big light at the end of the tunnel for us. They fulfilled their promise,” said Ms Naidoo.

Ms Naidoo had been a volunteer at the home for five years before she became the manager three years ago.

“Our patients are taken care of in this home because they would never survive outside the home. We get patients from Valkenberg for example where they were treated for six months, where they get stabilised, but they can’t stay at the hospital. They are adults with, for example, bipolar and schizophrenia or they are psychotic. Some families may not understand or know how to handle them.

“Our patients are not drug addicts, but they were born with a mental challenge. Their brains never developed. Some of them may have mental disabilities in the gene pool.

“They can’t go to an old age home, because there they don’t care for mentally ill patients, so they get sent here.”

Ms Naidoo said she has a passion for the patients and the staff. “We cater for our community. We charge R3 600 but not all can afford it – maybe only five can afford it.

“There are not many mental facilities for communities who can’t afford it, but there are a few private mental facilities.”

Ms Naidoo said their regular donors are churches, mosques and the Lions who provide them with smaller items needed at the centre.

However, she said Georgie’s Angels had provided them with a huge donation and they are happy to be able to meet one criteria to receive social welfare funds. “The first thing we would like to do if we get the funds, is to employ an occupational therapist.”

If you want to assist the centre call 021 706 3607 or visit them at 114 Victoria Road, Grassy Park, or email fishercentre@gmail.com