NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 12, 2014.
A South African non-profit organisation is helping to fight crime in the United Kingdom through specialised programmes.
Gugulethu Shezi, marketing and communications manager at Khulisa Social Solutions, said inner-city London and semi-rural townships in KwaZulu-Natal had much in common. They were both “communities where the youth frequently see drugs, crime and gangsterism as their only redemption”, said Shezi.
The NGO uses the commonalities between the two to implement programmes that help, “youngsters transform their lives”.
In South Africa, Khulisa focuses on marginalised youngsters in some of “the poorest, riskiest townships”, and the same formula is being used in the UK.
Some of the life skills interventions used by Khulisa include art and drama-therapy workshops, said Lisa Rowles from Khulisa’s UK branch.
“Each programme is tailored to the needs of the client group,” said Rowles, meaning that some programmes are day-long “taster sessions” while others are year-long intervention programmes.
Established in 1998 in KwaZulu-Natal with financial assistance from British donors, the NGO only opened its second branch as a charity in the UK in 2007.
A lot of fundraising and responding to government bids is done to keep it afloat, said Rowles.
In the UK, the “holistic” programmes the NGO uses include crime reduction programmes at schools and juvenile and adult correctional facilities which have been tracked by several academic institutions for possible successes and failures.
A report by Dr Tim Pascoe, criminologist and researcher, found that of all participants in Khulisa’s programmes, 98% progressed positively.
Some of the participants cited “anger management and conflict resolutions” as some of the benefits they had received from the programmes said Shezi.
This year and in 2015 the NGO plans to host programmes that focus on domestic violence, parents and children and looking at “the streets we walk with new eyes”, according to Rowles.