A new name to ignite community change

The Ignisive community stewards and the management team.

Ignisive is the new name of Community Who Cares, an organisation based in Camps Bay which aims to change the lives of those that take to the streets to make a living.

Theresa Massaglia, the co-founder of Ignisive, says tackling homelessness is not a problem that can be solved just by assisting those on the street.

“We want to give a hand-up and not just a hand-out as we want to make systemic changes. We have to know the root cause of homelessness and we believe we have to collaborate with the community to apply the solutions,” said Ms Massaglia.

“Ignisive speaks to inclusive change and we are advocates for social change. We are not just addressing symptoms,” she said, describing Ignisive’s plan to upskill homeless people.

“We work in Kalksteenfontein as we realise that many of the homeless come from this area. So we are going to the schools there to speak to them about the social challenges that they face, it’s a vicious cycle and we have to do something about educating our kids.”

From left are Ignisive co-founder Alan Marsh, champion skateboarder and Ignisive ambassador Jean-Marc Johannes, Ignisive operations director Ryan Rudy and co-founder Theresa Massaglia.

Ms Massaglia refers to the car guards as community stewards who are being trained in safety and security to formalise their jobs.

“Some of these guys have been on the streets for 20 years. So we are helping our homeless to reintegrate, to contribute and to earn money.

“We refer to them as community stewards as they do more than just watch cars. They will assist people with their shopping, they will keep your keys if you go for swim, they have assisted with arrests, they are our eyes and ears, we have so much trust in these guys and they have standing with the community, they are part of the community.

“We discourage sleeping on the streets and we work on getting them off the streets. We assist them getting their IDs, bank accounts, we set up SnapScan so that they can benefit directly from this project.”

Nobi Thierry, a community steward from the DRC says that the job is challenging as not everyone pays them.

“It’s tough to get money every day for the shelter, but we are here to do that. I’m thankful that I have this job,” Mr Thierry said.

The City of Cape Town is aware of Ignisive and Ward 54 councillor Nicola Jowell, herself a former community worker, says the organisation has made a welcome change which she believes will lead to long-term success.

“The illegal car guards that were in operation in the area have been displaced right out of the Camps Bay area. Ignisive is also looking at interventions that are not looking at the result of the issues (which is what is being experienced) but trying to target it at source. To prevent and create meaningful interventions at sources with the local communities,” said Ms Jowell.

“The City has been an instrumental part of the engagement, vetting and establishment of the safety ambassador project. The fundamental part of Ignisive and the route to success in community projects is through partnerships with all stakeholders and this has been very evident here.”

Ms Massaglia is concerned about what will happen when the City introduces paid parking in Camps Bay, but Ms Jowell says collaboration with Ignisive is possible.

“Paid parking at a recreational rate has been in the planning for many years. It was driven by requests from the ratepayers and public participation on this was done in 2019. It is due to be implemented when the new parking policy comes into effect and the new tender is implemented, which I understand to be later this year. We have already reached out to the officials involved who have been made aware of the Ignisive project and to see how we can work together on this,” said Ms Jowell.

Paid parking could be implemented on Camps Bay’s Beach Road.

Rob Quintas, mayoral committee member for Urban Mobility, confirmed that there was a demand for paid parking in Camps Bay.

“We are monitoring the area for the future expansion of parking management. In the meantime, a marshal initiative has been implemented on a voluntary basis and the implementation of formal management has been held off for now as the initiative is working quite successfully,” said Mr Quintas.

Nobi Thierry is one of the Ignisive community stewards on Beach Road in Camps Bay.