St George’s Turning Point Foundation
The St George’s Turning Point Foundation (TPF) was created in 2015 but has a much longer history. It all began with the work done by parishioners at two Anglican churches, St George’s, Parktown and St Michael’s, Bryanston, with street kids in Berea and Hillbrow. More than 10 years ago, they became especially friendly with a group of street kids who said they wanted to return to school—which, practically speaking, meant they had to come off the street. The boys persisted over a number of months and eventually we realised we had to make it possible…
We asked St George’s parishioners for help and, as always, they responded generously. We were able to rent part of a house in a very insalubrious part of Berea: the best we could do at short notice. From the start, we wanted to create a homelike atmosphere and we employed a house father to live with them and act as a parent. The boys were enrolled at New Nation School in Brixton.
The location was not ideal, with a tavern next door and drugs being sold openly on the street and in 2004, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we were able to buy a house in Brixton. We chose Brixton because it was near to the school and St George’s, but was still relatively affordable.
Over the next decade, up to 10 boys at a time were housed at St George’s Turning Point Home under the sheltering wing of the house mother, Peggy Sithebe. They attended schools and were given skills, and many of them found jobs. However, what we noticed was that many of our boys really battled to find their feet once they had left the home—unlike our own children, they typically lacked the help and advice of an established network of family and friends. Many of them went off the rails when they started making money, for example.
We began to feel that this was an area which tended to be ignored within the childcare system simply because the pressure of caring for children who face significant challenges makes for long-term interventions hard. At the same time, the new Children’s Act was coming into force and it was clear that complying with it was going to be hard for such a small institution to comply with the act and remain economic.
We then began a process of consultation with various children’s homes, at the end of which we concluded that the problem of transitioning young people from such institutions, is a major challenge that will need to be handled by government. We have therefore determined that our focus will be in supplying supplementary funding to help young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a focus on those from children’s homes, to acquire the skills that will make them employable.
We are currently providing financial help to students at Sparrow FET College and St Anthony’s Educational Centre. Both provide vocational skills training linked to industry needs – a great initiative to help solve the youth unemployment crisis in this country.
Read more about some of the boys who benefited from staying at St George’s Turning Point Foundation.