This year has been a big year of changes for PACT – not all of them easy, but all driving positive growth and development. One of the most significant shifts has been the recent, and now official, change over as the POP Centre comes under PACT’s guardianship.
This transition gives a local home – which is key – to all PACT interventions and projects. ‘The centre now becomes the living embodiment of the PACT ethos. To the community and to other stakeholders Pact can showcase its work and what it believes in at the centre,’ says Ingrid Wolfaardt, PACT’s executive trustee.
This change came about gradually over a period of seven years – with PACT and the Goedgedacht Trust walking a long road together. While PACT has funded the centre since it opened in 2015, it was previously owned by Goedgedacht, who this year felt it was the right time for the community trust to take over. ‘We now have enough resources and the capacity within PACT to own and manage the centre. By the community for the community,’ explains Wolfaardt.
The staff and community also see this change as a welcome new beginning. Rachell Gwegwe, who has been the cook at the POP Centre for the last six years and who is now serving as the centre’s nutrition officer sees how having the community trust running the centre has injected new life into it. ‘Overall there is a general energy increase here. People, especially the youth, love to be associated with PACT. There is also a stronger network now and support in terms of hands-on management and day-to-day activities. The centre can only become greater in the hands of PACT – we have seen this over the last few months. The children are happy, the staff are happy, what more could we want,’ she says.
Centre manager Naaim Briesies has seen more of an exchange with and trust from the community since the switch, and a new way of working. ‘There is much more stakeholder and community engagement, parents trust us with their children more than before,’ he says. He believes this is as a result of having a local organization at the helm of the centre – whose team understands the dynamics of Prince Albert. ‘PACT knows the heartbeat of our community, they can relate to what we experience, because they have relationships with people here,’ he adds.
While the official property transfer will only happen by the end of the year, the day-to-day functioning, and management of the centre has moved to PACT fully already. This logistical shift is already showing results. ‘The trust has a local address and office now plus a dedicated PACT officer in the centre, immersed in the community. This is hugely advantageous. This will ensure greater engagement and sustainability over the long term,’ says Wolfaardt.
What does the future hold for the POP Centre under PACT? Gwegwe expects that it will become a vibrant living centre, a place of learning, personal development and a driver of purposeful lives. Wolfaardt too, aims for the centre to become a place of excellence and energy, a second home for the youngsters of the community – where they want to spend time and feel safe being. ‘We want to let the space live, grow our existing programmes, pilot new ones too. We want to become a place where young people can be educated, encouraged, affirmed and empowered,’ she says. Briesies agrees. ‘The centre was created to be a developmental space, and that is what I wish to see in the near future. I want to see the POP Centre as a hub – the place to be. Furthermore, I want to see POP as a popcorn machine, our children must pop like popcorn, and their personalities must add flavour to it!’ he adds.