“Lend a hand, Change a Life.” That is the motto of Life Changers Foundation, a Cape Town-based non-profit organisation dedicated to getting people substance-free, self- sustainable, skilled, educated and reconciled with families to become role models to a society that once rejected them.
“Through personal development and awareness, we mobilise our young leaders to create lasting change in their homes, schools and communities and to safeguard them from the scourge of drugs,” said Brandon Eckhardt, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Life Changers Foundation.
Starting in 2009 in Ottery, Cape Town, Life Changers Foundation saw the huge problems of gangsterism and substance abuse gripping the Western Cape and felt the need to assist communities in combating this endemic and to bring about awareness. At present the organisation has in excess of 100 people attending support groups in Ottery. It assists other groups combating substance abuse with training regarding support group facilitation and helps set up support groups. It also works closely with schools in the community with regards to substance abuse awareness, early intervention and counselling.
“Our vision is to be a trendsetting recovery centre where every participant is restored,” said Dale Skippers, ‘Vodacom Change The World’ volunteer at Life Changers Foundation. “Our 2017 vision is to positively impact and influence one thousand men and one thousand women by 2017 in order for them to take the skills learnt to touch lives for positive change within their own communities.”
Through counselling, intervention and skills development, Life Changers Foundation aims to help the recovering participant with the following:
- Assistance in recognising the triggers and root causes of their addiction.
- Recognise what changes need to take place in their lives and lifestyles.
- Translate their understanding into action so that lasting change can take place.
- Encourage the healing of families as a whole.
- To ensure through personal and skills development, the recovering participant can be reintegrated back into society as a productive member of society.
“It’s challenging to get a person caught up in gangsterism to change their mind-sets and break free from gang culture,” Skippers said. We need to feed them with knowledge, values, goals and vision for their lives and this instils a passion within to want to make a positive impact on their communities.”
Life Changers Foundation runs various programmes divided into Beginners, Intermediate and Integration groups. The programmes are planned in such a manner to develop the participants through different phases where, on completion of the entire programme, candidates are able to find employment or have the skills, desire and drive to be entrepreneurs.
Programmes teach participants skills ranging from gardening to personal finance; beading to sales and marketing techniques; writing up a CV and interview skills. The Integration phase is for those participants who have completed the Beginner and Intermediate phases but feel that they are not yet ready or struggle to enter formal employment or are in the process and need support with starting their own business. These participants are employed within the programme so the objective in this phase is to provide a form of income for the participants as well as to create sustainability for the Life Changers Foundation Centre.
Participants are also involved in programmes such as School and Corporate Outreach Programme, Popular Education Schooling and UCT Entrepreneurs Development Platform Programme. “We do expose participants to life skills, entrepreneurship, sales and customer service skills,” Skippers adds. “Our objective is to switch their approach to life from mediocre to one of excellence. I personally agree with the theory that one way out of unemployment and poverty is to create your own employment and create employment for others. The courses which we expose them to give them a different mind-set of how they can live sustainable lives. whether through working with excellence in the marketplace or as entrepreneurs.”
Eckhardt explains what happens once a participant goes through a programme: “We have a 2 month in-house program. Our Wednesday evening programme is approximately 30 weeks from the Beginners to complete Integration. The Wednesday support group is a continuous maintenance programme where many of those who have been through the programme come either for further support or to facilitate and come alongside others on the programme. We are currently setting up a career corner where jobs and learnerships will be advertised and will assist applicants with compiling CV’s, completing job applications and e-mail and fax job applications.”
“We have partnered with the UCT Graduate School of Business as well as Business Bridge Initiative and this allows us to give our candidates the tools to create a sustainable life for themselves.”