Bonteheuwel cafe helps the unemployed

Seen at The Purple House in Bonteheuwel, are, back, from left, Zain Isaacs and Hilton van Wyk. Seated, in front, are Centhal Daniels and founder Irma Titus.

A Bonteheuwel cafe doesn’t just serve tea and coffee – it’s also helping the unemployed find work.

The Purple House, as it is known, opened two years ago, with only a tray of tea and coffee available, but it has slowly taken shape as a place where you can get help to put a CV together, apply online for a job, work on an art project or get help with your school work.

Founder Irma Titus says the cafe has benefited over the past two years from the community’s support, including people donating bar stools, an espresso machine and a CD rack.

“I would describe The Purple House as a resource-based cultural hub. It is an ode to my mother’s generation (anti-apartheid activists)… My mother’s generation did not use excuses like they don’t have a venue. They met wherever and made it work,” Ms Titus says.

The cafe offers warm and cold drinks, as well as printing, internet access and help with CV writing, all at a nominal cost. Last week, the café added a “career day” that is held once a week offering free support services to all unemployed people.

“We decided to call it career day, because it is easy to understand. It is open to all ages from 16 years and up. We use the simple methodology of ‘each one teaches one’,” Ms Titus says.

“The group provides conversational support and also an opportunity to connect with someone working in the industry that they are interested in. It is also to get people to appreciate their own experiences as valuable.

“The hour before our support group, we help to set up email addresses, register with the South African Revenue Service (Sars), offer free wi-fi, and teach digital literacy – all for free. The free services we offer are especially needed now because of Covid-19.”

Zain Isaacs says the support he found at The Purple House helped him to land a job.

“The Purple House served me as a crutch, not just to find a job, but to help me heal – to not feel worthless. I also realised that there are others who are struggling.

“Before I came here, I didn’t understand why I had to update my CV, but an old version of my CV nearly cost me the job I now have. Being punctual and presentable are also things I never thought about and came to realise at The Purple House how important they are.”

Centhal Daniels says the initiative “is very helpful”.

“I am unemployed at the moment, and I needed assistance with career guidance. I have already learnt so much after one session, and I am sure I will learn much more. I am struggling a bit to decide what career path to choose.”

Hilton van Wyk says Ms Titus is helping him with a professional online profile.

“I do youth facilitation, camera work and lighting. The career day is a big help to me and other young people. Many of us (youth) have an online presence, but we don’t use it for the right purpose – instead of just using it for fun, it can also be used to boost our careers.”

Ms Titus says being unemployed is a lonely experience.

“My hope and dream is that the Bonteheuwel community will see the purpose of The Purple House and that there would be a resource centre in every street of Bonteheuwel.”