CRISIS CENTRE FOR CHILDREN OPENS ITS DOORS

Every child needs a guardian angel and you'll find plenty at Angels Care Centre, a non-profit organisation established to address the needs of desperately poor children from informal settlements in Howick, Kwa Zulu Natal. Supported by Blow the Whistle - an anti-crime initiative - Angels Care Centre has now officially opened a crisis centre for children who are victims of Gender Based Violence, abuse and neglect. Since opening, the Angels Care Crisis Centre has already started helping victims of sexual crimes receive medical assistance and collecting crucial evidence to help secure convictions of perpetrators.

Funds raised by Blow the Whistle have assisted in the establishment and opening of Angels Care Crisis Centre. A national campaign initiated by Legacy Lifestyle, Blow The Whistle not only strives to protect all woman and children of South Africa and empower them by giving their voices back, but collectively seeks to help the country as a whole through the manufacturing and distributing of whistles. Since it launched in November 2013, Blow The Whistle has, with the help of various sponsors and corporate partners, raised thousands of Rands through the sale of these whistles, the money of which has been distributed to various charities for abused women and children across our country.

The funds raised by Blow The Whistle were given to The DNA Project, which allocated the funds donated to it to one of the anti-rape projects’ it supports, known as  'Angels Care'.

"The plight of children across South Africa is close to our hearts and, as such, selecting Angels Care Centre as a benefiting organisation of Blow The Whistle was an easy decision," says Mike Rowley founder of  Blow The Whistle. "Angels Care Centre helps vulnerable children from informal settlements around uMngeni municipal area. Situated at 38 Morling Road Howick, the Centre is a registered non-profit organisation with a vision to restore dignity, and provide support to child survivors of sexual violence. Providing access to all the necessary social, medical and legal services, the Centre ensures that all child rape victims not only receive care and assistance in one location, in a timely manner, but medical and psycho-social healing too."

The building, which officially opened its doors on 3 August, now proudly consists of a reception area, consulting room for SAPS/NPA, consulting room for a social worker/counsellor, a medical examination room, bathroom facilities and even a bedroom where children can rest if they need to.

Carolyn Hancock, who spearheads Angels Care Centre, explains the opening went very well. "We have the Centre mostly well equipped for now. As with any organisation of this nature salaries are our biggest challenge, but we have employed a fantastic social worker who has lots of experience working with Lifeline, and other crisis centres. We have also employed a professional nurse who took early retirement from a government crisis centre, which only dealt with sexual assault cases - so she too comes with a wealth of experience. They both have an incredible passion for helping children, and so we are very lucky to have them," says Carolyn.

"As we are the first NGO trying to set up a holistic crisis centre of this nature that also works alongside governmental departments to ensure that in the end justice is served, we are learning along the way. Sadly, we have already had a case of a three-year-old child who has been raped - her injuries are substantial and it is difficult to imagine what drives sometime to commit such acts. She is, however, healing well and will have on-going counselling (with her mom who is obviously also traumatised) and hopefully she will fully recover, both physically and emotionally."

The Centre will continue to work closely with the South African Police Services, Department of Health, Department of Social Development and the Department of Justice/ National Prosecuting Authority to provide holistic help to these children through counselling, medical intervention, psycho-social intervention and legal intervention. In addition, the Centre will also continue to improve convictions on cases involving vulnerable children and ensure their psycho-social healing thereafter, as well as improve the relations between communities and officials and improve the community’s trust in the criminal justice system.

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