Parkwood residents and community leaders had an opportunity to raise their concerns at a meeting held at the Department of Social Development’s regional office recently.
The meeting was called after an impromptu picket by Parkwood youngsters, under the leadership of the Voice of Parkwood, outside the department’s offices in Wynberg on Thursday June 23 to express their dissatisfaction at “the poor services rendered by the department” to the community of Parkwood.
The group handed over a memorandum to the department, listing several concerns including the lack of youth development, older person support groups, resources, staff, programmes and NPO capacity-building.
Voice of Parkwood’s Paul Phillips said the memorandum had been a last resort to highlight their frustration with the department.
“We need the department to step in and play its constitutional role so that the community of Parkwood can start to heal. There are no programmes for the youth, no activities. Our youngsters are left to deal with the daily gang activities and shootings instead of being kept occupied,” said Mr Phillips.
Mr Phillips added that NPOs in the area are trying to uplift the community but need capacity building from the department as well as resources.
“As an affected party in the ongoing gang warfare in our communities, it is frustrating to see that the relevant government departments like Social Development are not collectively addressing the challenges residents are facing on a daily basis,” said Mr Phillips.
He added that departments who are not rendering services are in fact contributing towards the problems in Parkwood.
“If they do not render an effective service regarding child and senior abuse, substance abuse, dysfunctional families, have awareness programmes during school holidays and other activities, then they contribute towards the problem,” he said.
“When you engage several departments, all of them have strategies, plans, visions and mission statements and they are mandated, constitutionally to serve the community, but the expected outcome does not materialise,” said Mr Phillips.
He said residents and organisations will raise their voices calling all departments to account and deliver on their constitutional mandate.
The Department of Social Development’s head of communications, Esther Lewis said the department welcomed the community’s concerns and will work with stakeholders to address issues discussed.
Ms Lewis added the department would arrange an institutional capacity-building workshop and that the department would engage the community and stakeholders regarding the workshops planned for September this year.
Mr Phillips was grateful that the community had a chance to raise their concerns.
“The department acknowledges its shortcomings and admitted that our demands were realistic. We will, however, only be satisfied once we see the outcome materialise,” he ended.