The Hands of Honour’s Regeneration of City and Soul program seeks to address three problems in Cape Town,South Africa:
(1) Prolonged unemployment
(2) Physically run down spaces, and
(3) Effective management of obsolete stock/recyclable waste.
Hands of Honor employs the “unemployable” in South Africa—those who have experienced homelessness, crime and/or substance abuse—to up-cycle obsolete stock and recyclable items. Much of this waste is provided through partnerships with the corporate sector and would otherwise end up in landfills. Workers process the waste, either rehabilitating material or stripping goods for sale of parts. Proceeds from this have two benefits. First, it provides salaries for workers who otherwise have no work options available to them. Second, profits are invested in derelict community spaces, focusing on public spaces which have become havens for anti-social behavior. Hands of Honour trains the same marginalized populations to transform these spaces into safe and attractive places conducive to economic development and community healing. In the process, the workers not only receive a salary, but are integrated back into their communities, gaining job skills, self-esteem, and breaking their reliance on social services and/or illegal activity. In many case, these workers have a reputation of being poisonous elements of their communities; as the rest of their community sees them upgrading their community spaces, their attitudes begin to change as well.
Hands of Honour brings together 3 best practices: First, while “up-cycling,” or reusing waste materials has been done informally by waste pickers scouring the dumps, Hands of Honor works directly with the waste generators to formalize this process, representing something new in South Africa. Corporations are the main “donor” of waste to Hands of Honor—donating rather than disposing their waste. Second, Hands of Honor’s job training program provides skills and confidence to those members of society who have “checked out.” This both increases employment and rehabilitates the workers. Finally, this process funds urban renewal initiatives, focusing on those areas that are identified by the community as being flash points for crime.
Taken together, these elements result in a program that can sustain itself, and contributes to a greener city, job creation, and reclaiming derelict urban spaces.
Since the program started, 60 people have received salaried work from processing waste. Eight physically run down spaces have been rehabilitated, including developing a new food garden, upgrading places of learning, and upgrading dwellings of vulnerable groups.
For example, one rehabilitation process employed 50 people to upgrade an area which has been known as a drug haven. The building is now a factory that produces school uniforms.
This process has also served as a point of reconciliation between the formerly unemployed and the community, as the workers showcase their potential and skills. Twenty-five individuals have
leveraged this to find employment as machinists, cutters, or even as security guards in the buildings they have rehabilitated.
SHORTLISTED:ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION -NEXT CENTURY 100 INNOVATORS AWARD 2013
Winners – UNLtd South Africa Award 2013
Finalist – Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award 2012
Finalist – Social Enterprise Competition 2011 -Dept.Econ.Dev.
Youth Shortlisted – Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Award 2012
Paul Talliard – Director : Hands of Honour