The Department of Social Development & Special Programmes is mandated to improve the quality of life and well-being of the poor and vulnerable.
With regards to allegations that the Social Relief program was being used for electioneering purposes the Department’s spokesman, Gcobani Maswana, said; “It is untrue, and malicious for political parties and certain media houses to insinuate that the department distributes food parcels and school uniforms only during election season.”
He explains that the Department from April 2013 to September 2013 provided 1,946 school uniforms to needy and vulnerable children in the Eastern Cape and that to date 2,959 school uniforms and sanitary towels have been handed-out to children who come from disadvantaged families.
The Social relief of distress (SRD) is a temporary provision of assistance intended for people in dire material need, that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs. The SRD may be in the form of a food parcel or a food voucher.
“In the 2013/14 financial year, more than R100 million was utilised to assist, 84 384 vulnerable and needy people in the Eastern Cape through the SRD programme,” says Maswana.
Factors which may cause the need for SRD:
- People waiting for children’s grants to be processed
- Families affected by disasters
- Families who do not qualify for a grant, but are in a desperate situation
- Single parents who are unable to get maintenance
- Death or imprisonment (short-term) of a breadwinner
In order for the Department to extend the SRD to needy families, Social Workers assess families and those in need are assisted to apply for the Social Relief of Distress programme.
“Social workers sometimes are alerted by families, traditional authorities, church leaders, ward councillors and people of goodwill. All applications are assessed for credibility and genuine need for the service.” adds Maswana.