World Homeless Day commemorated

Homeless people line up at a soup kitchen on World Homeless Day.


The Johannesburg Organisation of Services to the Homeless (Josh) commemorated World Homeless Day on 10 October by encouraging the community and the homeless to find constructive action.

World Homeless Day began in 2010 in order to highlight the needs of the homeless as well as provide an opportunity for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness.

Josh hosted the event in order to engage in discussions with the City of Johannesburg as well as other interested parties to address the issues of homelessness in the city which could hopefully result in additional homeless shelters and training centres.

Homeless men and women are encouraged to share their struggles and ideas to combat homelessness on World Homeless Day.

Mary Gillett-de Klerk, the founder of Josh, said the sustainable development goals they are trying to achieve include no poverty, no hunger, good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth as well as sustainable cities and communities.

Sarah Charlton, an associate professor for Wits, has been working with Urban Lab, an international network of academic centres which investigates critical questions surrounding research.

“These urban labs are intended to be a safe space where we can bring various groups together such as academia, local government and the private sector and civil society and it’s a place to discuss difficult issues,” said Charlton.

“There was a sense among many of the people there [at the Urban Lab] that homelessness is growing in Johannesburg and in many of the neighbourhoods where we live and it has increasingly become a pressing issue.”

Charlton also highlighted that homelessness can be interpreted and understood in many different ways and homelessness is a very complex issue to address.

Homeless men and women are encouraged to share their experiences on World Homeless Day.

The executive head of the Department of Social Development for the City of Johannesburg was also present to discuss some of the issues faced. The executive head, Wandile Zwane said, “People living in a shelters have potential and they need to be given an opportunity and not judged because they come from the streets. A shelter is not a dumping ground but a starting point.

“It is crucial to improve people’s lives before they leave the shelter and in that way they can avoid a vicious circle of shelter hopping.”

The event also encouraged homeless people to share some of their struggles and provide ideas to help combat homelessness. Some of the key points highlighted by the homeless included the lack of accessible shelters as well as skills development. One of the ideas suggested included a government-funded clean-up service by the homeless as well as a skills database for employers to find skilled, homeless men and women.


Tell us what you think can be done to help the homeless on WhatsApp 079 439 5345

Laura Pisanello

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