For eight years, the Hands of Honour organisation in Cape Town has made remarkable strides in creating sustainable employment for homeless people.
Paul Talliard founded Hands of Honour in 2010 in response to the alarming increase of men languishing in soup kitchens all over the city. Talliard himself had been on the streets and destitute for 15 years after losing his job as a fireman but says “I really needed to take steps to change my life and wanted to put hope back into people’s lives”.
Hands of Honour up-cycles 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.
Talliard says: “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”. The Foschini Group has been a major supporter of the project.
Hands of Honour also creates award-winning children’s toys and furniture for under-privileged early learning centres across Cape Town. The organisation provides skills training for marginalised people and gets involved in urban renewal initiatives in areas identified as flashpoints for crime.
Hands of Honour has used online trading platform Gumtree as its free marketing outlet and Gumtree’s Estelle Nagel says the organisation is a classic example of successful use of online spaces to promote a really worthwhile social project: “We’re incredibly proud of what Paul has achieved and the real difference he is making in the community”.
Talliard says there are many ways that individuals and corporations can support Hands of Honour from cash donations, sponsoring an Angel classroom and allowing the organisation to collect recyclable or up-cyclable material.”