Hands of Honour was founded in 2010 by Paul Talliard in response to the alarming increase of young and adult men languishing in soup kitchens all over Cape Town. From humble beginnings, the organisation progressed from eight founding members in a soup kitchen to a major force for the greater good in the community and surrounds.
The organisation has attained the following awards:
- Winner UnLtd South Africa Award 2013;
- Nominated for the Rockefeller Foundation 100 Innovators Next Century Award 2013;
- Finalist in the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award 2012.
The Hands of Honour’s Regeneration of City and Soul program seeks to address three problems in Cape Town:
- Prolonged unemployment;
- Physically run down spaces;
- Effective management of obsolete stock / recyclable waste.
Regeneration of City and Soul Programme
Hands of Honour 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:
- Provide salaries for workers who otherwise have no work options available to them;
- Profits are invested in derelict community spaces, focusing on public spaces which have become havens for anti-social behaviour.
The organisation trains the same marginalised 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 for being poisonous elements of their communities, but as the rest of their community sees them upgrading their community spaces, their attitudes begin to change as well.
Hands of Honour brings together three best-practices:
- While ‘up-cycling’ or reusing waste materials has been done informally by waste pickers scouring the dumps, the organisation works directly with the waste generators to formalise this process, representing something new in South Africa. Corporations are the main ‘donors’ of waste to the organisation, donating rather than disposing of their waste;
- Hands of Honour’s Job Training Programme provides skills and confidence to those members of society who have ‘checked out’. This both increases employment and rehabilitates the workers;
- 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 programme that can sustain itself and contribute to a greener city, job creation and reclaiming derelict urban spaces.
The Hands of Honour Up-cycling Centre is still looking for a one tonne truck with which to collect consignments of obsolete stock / recyclables from corporates. The organisation has about R20 000 saved up for this. Any persons who would like to help or invest in Hands of Honour Up-cycling Centre are urged to come forward.
Partnership Opportunities for Corporations
One of the main benefits for corporations who partner with Hands of Honour, donating their waste / obsolete stock rather than sending it to landfills, is that they are seen as a force for the greater good. Those that the organisation partners with are seen as being actively engaged in its sustainability efforts. Hands of Honour therefore takes pride in being involved with a corporate that is focused on the triple bottom-line of people, planet, and profit.
The organisation’s partnership with The Foschini Group (TFG) has resulted in the creation of new jobs and the improvement of the urban environment of the poor and crime-ridden area Hands of Honour operates in. This, as well as the diversion of large volumes of waste / obsolete stock from the landfills to the Hands of Honour Up-cycling Centre, speak volumes, and show what can be achieved if both donor and awarded understand their respective roles in raising the standard of living of the less fortunate.
Everyone in the community now knows of The Foschini Group's efforts to improve their lives and also realise the return they get from investing in TFG, by simply buying from them. Every time a community member buys an item from TFG, they know there is a chance that their community and surrounds will directly benefit from the transaction. Hands of Honour encourages all corporations in Cape Town to help rehabilitate communities and waste through engagement of the socially marginalised.
Since the programme started, 32 people have received salaried work from processing waste. Nine physically run-down spaces have been rehabilitated, including developing new food gardens, upgrading places of learning as well as the dwellings of vulnerable groups. For example, one rehabilitation process employed 24 people to upgrade an area which was 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. 25 individuals have leveraged this to find employment in the formal and informal sectors.
One particular success stands out. Leyton Fillies, a former prison gang member who was unemployed and used to live in a car has had his life transformed through Hands of Honour’s programmes. He is now working as a supervisor at a company and supports three poor children in his community by paying their annual school fees. Many of the organisation’s graduates also contribute financially to the development of their community by supporting feeding stations and availing themselves to work on regeneration projects that benefit the community.
To view Hands of Honour in the Prodder NGO Directory, click here.