Residents, staff, fear Fisher Centre may shut doors

Workers Zodwa Ngcobo and Joan Josias, manager Surgrie Naidoo, Chandre Kleinsmith, Shereen Samuels and Kim Osler.

The residents, staff and management at a home for the mentally and intellectually challenged in Grassy Park fear the organisation might have to close its doors in the near future.

The Grassy Park Fisher Centre, an NPO as well as a public benefit organisation, has been running from hired premises in Victoria Road for more than a decade and houses 39 patients.

The organisation depends solely on the funds received from donations and residents’ pension and disability grants. Some of the expenditure involved in running the centre includes nearly R27 000 for rental costs, as well as stipends for 11 staff members, a general monthly worker, a senior nurse for two days a week and a caregiver once a week. They also have to provide each resident with four meals a day.

Organisation manager Surgrie Naidoo said they heavily depend on donations because they are not subsided by government.

“The reason we’re not subsided by government is because the premises has been inspected and we have been told that it needs to be fire risk compliant. “Because of our financial constraints we are barely able to keep up with daily food and resource requirements, nevermind the building upgrades to be fire compliant. We are of course aware that we need to be fire compliant but we are unable to afford it,” said Ms Naidoo.

When quoted, the costs to become fire compliant tallied up to over R100 000.

“We are clearly unable to pay this amount but want to stay open because we are helping the most vulrnable of our community,” said Ms Naidoo.

Joan Josias from Lotus River has been working diligently at the organisation for a few years since the facility opened its doors and said she would hate to see it close down. “I have a soft spot for these patients and I love my job. I really do not want to see the centre close because where would these residents go?”

Kim Osler, who has been working at the facility for seven years, said it’s difficult working in such dire circumstances. “I could be working anywhere and earning more but I love working here with these patients. Most days they put a smile on my face but some days it is very difficult because they suffer from mental illnesses. Despite that I would rather choose to be here,” she said.

The organisation is asking for assistance from companies, individuals and other organisations to help them cover the costs to become fire compliant.

They are also asking communities to make donations of clothes, toiletries, perishable and non-perishable foods and other items.

To get a wish list assembled by the organisation or for more information, contact the centre on 021 706 3607 or visit them at 114 Victoria Road in Grassy Park or email fishercentre@gmail. com