Providing a place of safety for children

Established in 2016, Tharros Child and Youth Care Centre serves the communities of Hankey, Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp. Referrals to the centre are done through social workers who work with children and their families when a child is not in a safe environment. Once the temporary placement is complete (a maximum of 6 months), the child is either reunited with their family or placed in foster care in the community.

The centre uses two main types of therapy, namely individual counselling including play therapy and trauma counselling, and group work including dance, drama and programmes that develop protective behaviours.

Play therapy is a professional tool used by the social worker to encourage children to express the trauma they endured. This method is non-invasive and allows children to heal at their own pace, feeling safe to explore their emotions. Trauma therapists counsel children who display severe emotional injury from their experiences. Tharros refers children to a trauma counsellor when needed.

Dance and drama are beneficial tools which allow children to express themselves without feeling confronted.  It brings a sense of freedom and restores wellbeing.  Children can role play characters that mimic their own situation, without feeling that they are talking about themselves. The ‘protective behaviour’ programme teaches children the skill of being aware of their own safety and how to reach out for help.

In addition, other group programmes are run by the child care workers at the Centre on specific themes such as bullying and the importance of hygiene. Group work enhances children’s skills and self-image.

In September 2021 a fire broke out at the centre which forced the centre to close its doors. Michelle Dorfling, the manager of the organisation said that although this was a devasting experience for the centre, it allowed them to reinvent themselves by expanding their services to include a family resource centre. This new development allows the organisation to work in the community, at schools, and with foster parents to provide wider support.

The Amandla Omoya Trust supported the redevelopment of the Centre with a grant of R200,000.

“With the support of the Amandla Omoya Trust we are able to expand to an even greater therapeutic space, where we could bring in a qualified social worker which we are very grateful for.” Therese Sampson: CEO: Tharros Trust and Youth Centre.