Young people from Parkwood made their voices heard at the South Regional Office of the Department of Social Development, last week.
The group of youth, under the leadership of community worker Pastor Paul Phillips and NPO Voice of Parkwood, picketed outside the regional offices on Thursday June 23 to protest against the lack of services by the department in the area.
“We are dissatisfied with the level of intervention from social development. We are a challenged community and they’re not really visible. There’s a lack of manpower and a lack of funds to deal with social ills in the community,” said Mr Phillips.
“They render no proper services in Parkwood, no programmes, no youth and children’s activities, no funding for organisations, no counselling for those traumatised by shootings – not much of anything,” said Mr Phillips.
“This month is Youth Month and the school holidays are upon us but there is nothing for the youth and children of Parkwood to do except sit in the middle of an all out gang war. Our children are being shot at, hurt and bullied. We’ve got a constitutional right to be socially developed in Parkwood but the department does not offer anything to these youngsters and we are taking a stand asking why nothing is being done,” he said.
This is not the first time these concerns have been raised by the Voice of Parkwood and Parkwood residents.
Last year, before the December holidays, the same issues were raised by the group at the social development office in Victoria Road Grassy Park (“Call for safer holiday”, Southern Mail, November 25, 2015).
The group also handed over a memorandum for the attention of the MEC of the Social Development, Albert Fritz, and the director of the Wynberg district office with a list of demands including; more intervention from the department, more activities for the youth, more resources, and for staff and funds to be made available to the community of Parkwood to address social ills.
The group also wants more support for organisations from the department.
“These youngsters are at risk. We’ve got shootings in Parkwood everyday. The department of social development is a key stakeholder in trying to address social ills in Parkwood and other communities but they are not visible. We want to get their attention and hopefully they can address some of our concerns,” said Mr Phillips.
Parkwood resident Rowan Adams, who narrowly escaped a gang shooting last week, said he fears for his and his friends’ lives.
“We often stand around in the park or in the street and shots would ring out. We are scared because our friends have been shot. We can’t even play soccer and the girls can’t play netball in the parks anymore because at any moment we could be shot at,” he said.
“We need help from the Department of Social Development and all the other stakeholders because we cannot continue living like this.”
Quinton Arendse, Social Development’s regional director, ac-cepted and signed the memorandum and said that the department would respond to the document within seven days of Thursday.
“We have received it, we will process it, submit it to the various departments and the relevant officials. The issues raised by the group are duly noted,” said Mr Arendse.
On Sunday June 26, Voice of Parkwood, along with residents, held a placard protest while walking through the streets of Parkwood.
The peace walk forms part of the plan to rally the community against gang violence, crime and gang activity.