Supporting social workers and families affected by collapsed building

10 May 2024 | SANews

On Thursday, 09 May 2024, Western Cape Minister of Social Development Sharna Fernandez visited George to check in with social workers from the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD).

While rescue operations at the collapsed building site in George, family members and loved ones of those still trapped under the rubble have been anxiously awaiting news.

DSD social workers have been working around the clock to provide psychosocial support services to those affected since the day of the collapse. These services include, but are not limited to, counseling, coordination of donations, and transporting family members to the hospital.

Other social service organisations and government departments have also been assisting with psychosocial support, such as the Provincial Departments of Education, and Health and Wellness, the Department of Correctional Services, the South African Police Service, FAMSA, AKESO, Lions Club, Badisa, Meals on Wheels, and The Faith Based Fraternity.

DSD social worker, Funiswa Neti says she has never witnessed trauma on such a wide scale before:

We’ve been working in shifts – along with our partners – to ensure there is 24/7 support for the families waiting in the hall. Whatever is needed from us, we try to give it, whether it is comforting a crying mother, serving lunch, or playing with the children, we are here for whatever. It has been very difficult, for all of us as social workers, but our focus is the families and their needs.”

Minister Fernandez spoke to families who have been temporarily stationed near the construction site, encouraging them to make use of the support services available.

“We’ve got various service providers providing psychosocial support services on a voluntary basis, along with the DSD and DCS. The outpouring of donations from kind-hearted citizens, businesses, and organisations has been incredible, and has added another layer of comfort for the families who are anxiously awaiting news about their loved ones,” says Minister Fernandez.

“Social workers have played an integral role in providing mental and emotional support, containing the immense trauma of the families, and walking a difficult journey with every person who has needed them. I salute all who are trying to lessen this incredible burden on the families. DSD will ensure they too get the necessary support they require,” adds Minister Fernandez.

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