Huge relief for NPOs

A R6.7-MILLION lifeline has been thrown to cash-starved non-profit organisations (NPOs) by the Eastern Cape department of social development.

This comes after the department made huge cuts to its budgets. NPOs East London Child Welfare, Childline East London, Christelik- Maatskaplike Raad (CMR) in King William’s Town, as well as Uviwe Child and Youth Centre in Port Elizabeth will receive reviewed budget allocations on Monday, head of social development Ntombi Baart announced on Friday.

This follows meetings between the department’s senior managers, including Baart, and the affected NPOs on Wednesday and Thursday.

CMR Eastern Cape director Madgdelena von Solms, whose two centres house vulnerable children and provide safe houses for abused women and children in King William’s Town, East London and PE, said their meeting was “very positive” and she was very happy with the outcomes.

While Baart said the adjustments would be finalised on Monday when they would issue service level agreements to all affected NPOs, the Saturday Dispatch can reveal that CMR will receive R1.2-million more, East London Child Welfare (ELCW) an extra R1.3-million, Childline R401 000, Uviwe R1.3million and CMR PE R1.9-million.

Baart crafted the rescue plan following a Dispatch exposé which has run over the past few weeks, which revealed that NPOs such as ELCW was being hit by cuts of more than 1 000%.

This forced the Southernwoodbased centre to shut its doors temporarily two weeks ago, after it had to review its organogram which had 12 full-time social workers.

Childline East London was forced to reduce its social workers from three to two.

Social development portfolio committee head Christian Martins, who attended the bail-out meetings this week, said the trouble could have been avoided had the department been more open with its NPO partners.

“We are in this mess because of lack of communication between the department and the NPOs,” he said. “These two are ideally partners. “The majority of these NPOs offer statutory services and the department had plans of taking over those services but they did not even consult these organisations about those plans.

“Lines of communication should always be open, hence in July we have scheduled meetings with these NPOs.

“Follow-up meetings will be held between the metros and affected NGOs to deliberate on service delivery arrangements by Wednesday, June 28.

“New allocation letters and service level agreements will be dispatched to the organisations once all paperwork has been finalised by the department.”

Those affected by the readjustments would receive their service level agreements from Baart next week.

Baart said the parties agreed to the new revisions and the department hoped to have further engagements with the NPOs.

“Working agreements between the department and NGOs will be signed and will be annexed to original SLAs.

“Disbursement of funds is expected to be finalised by the end of June pending the signing of SLAs by the affected NPOs,” said Baart.

One of the casualties of the ELCW closure was social worker Sibusiso Sikrenya, 29, of Southernwood in East London.

He said their retrenchment did not only mean losing their jobs and income, but meant losing touch with their caseloads.

Sikrenya handled 900 cases of abused children from the East London area.

By Simthandile Ford DispatchLIVE