Press release: Support from Social Development
MEDIA RELEASE BY Sharna Fernandez WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF Social Development Date: 10 August 2020 Release: Immediate Women’s Day: Minister Fernandez hosts Conversations with COVID-19/GBV Survivors Against the backdrop of Women’s Day commemorated on Sunday, 9 August 2020, the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, hosted a Webinar with the 1000 Women Trust and a group of female Covid-19 Survivors from Khayelitsha. The Webinar focused on the different kinds of support being offered to Survivors of Covid-19 and victims of gender-based violence. The engagement also presented the opportunity for the 1000 Women Trust to debrief the group of Survivors, who begin trauma support volunteer training on Monday, 10 August 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic combined with the effects of having to quarantine/isolate to prevent the spread of the virus, multiplied by a hard lockdown can produce amongst others; acute panic, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Minister Fernandez said, “We are witnessing increased reports of stigmatisation and acts of discrimination against individuals, as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus. The psychological impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has also been fueled by misinformation.” Minister Fernandez added, “As a consequence of the pandemic and the Lockdown, the need for psycho-social support services has escalated.” Minister Fernandez continued, “To the many individuals and families experiencing trauma due to discrimination or stigmatisation because of contracting Covid-19, I would like to urge you to not suffer in silence, but to speak out and seek support.” The 1000 Women Trust, is a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) that fights against gender-based violence and works to strengthen women-led initiatives to advance the human rights of women. The Organization recently developed a short-course on how to provide support to individuals who are experiencing trauma because of isolation, stigma, fear and a lack of knowledge on how to provide assistance for community members, who have contracted Covid-19. The short-course also provides information on gender-based violence and how to hold a safe space for a person who is experiencing trauma. Since moving and conducting their training via the use of WhatsApp support groups, the 1000 Women Trust, has seen 261 volunteers complete their training. A further 161 volunteers are currently completing their training. Minister Fernandez said, “These volunteers serve as a force multiplier to the existing psycho-social support services being offered by social workers.” Minister Fernandez added, “We are indeed grateful and welcome any initiative that seeks to empower women and helps us add value to the communities they live in.” The 1000 Women Trust is also working with 45 Soup kitchens and hosting #HearMeToo meetings where the support groups meet and inspire each other to #SpeakOut, to report and to share their stories. For the period starting from April 2020, to the end of July 2020, 33 644 people received psycho-social support from the NPO sector in the Western Cape. During the same period, the provincial Department of Social Development provided funding to over 1000 social workers in the NPO sector. “I would also like to thank all those Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and volunteers, who are helping us in our efforts, to provide much-needed support to our communities, families and individuals being impacted by Covid-19. Grief and loss counselling is also being offered by the provincial Department of Social Development and it’s NPO partners. If anyone requires any form of psycho-social support, please contact us on our hotline number on 0800 220 250 to be connected to your nearest local office,” concluded Minister Fernandez.