The Denis Hurley Centre Social Meal Project


 Planning an innovative festive season campaign to create awareness about the plight of the homeless in Durban and generating funds to feed them, has resulted in The Social Meal Project – a joint initiative between the Denis Hurley Centre in the inner city, and top ad agency Ogilvy and Mather Durban, during which diners at some of the city’s top restaurants are invited to symbolically “share a meal” with a member of the city’s homeless community over this season of giving.

The Social Meal Project has been partnered by some of the creative minds at Ogilvy and Mather who have come up with an interesting concept: when sitting down in one of the partner restaurants or cafes, customers would see a table talker / menu insert inviting them to join in the Social Meal Project.  This will profile a named homeless person inviting the customers to share a meal with him or her: the customer can make a donation while paying their meal bill in various different ways.

“1.4 million holiday-makers (locals, South Africans and foreign) come to Durban in the summer to have fun – we want to give them a chance to share the fun with the less fortunate homeless people of Durban.  Revellers are estimated to spend over R3.1 billion during the holiday season – it costs the Denis Hurley Centre (DHC) 1/1000th of that amount to provide its services to the homeless, refugees and poor of inner-city Durban for one whole year,” explains The Denis Hurley Centre’s Raymond Perrier.

“The Centre, which welcome up to 300 homeless people each day, estimates that it costs about R15 to provide breakfast, lunch, a hot shower and clean clothes to one person.  We are asking people to pledge R15 (or multiples thereof) so they can “share” a social meal with a homeless person,” he continued.

Members of the homeless community have come forward to tell their stories and add their name and face to the project in an endeavour to give the plight of homelessness a more intimate, human persona.

“The photographs will help diners to see the homeless person as someone with dignity; they will be able to read more about the person’s history and share photos of the meal that they are eating alongside the meals being served at the Denis Hurley Centre.  We want to show that the city’s homeless are ordinary people. Our wish is that through this campaign will encourage us to look them in the eye and in so doing to engage with mutual respect and humanity. Isn’t that what this season is intrinsically supposed to be about?” considers Perrier.

Top photographer Jono Nienaber volunteered his time to take a series of evocative photographs of the homeless volunteer ambassadors to be used in the media roll-out and on the table talkers.

The Denis Hurley Centre is a legacy project honouring Archbishop Denis Hurley OMI who was bishop and archbishop of this city from 1947 to 1992. He played a significant role in opposing apartheid and promoting the vision of just a society. In serving the poorest and most marginalised citizens of Durban the Denis Hurley Centre will live out Archbishop Hurley’s dream that the Church would be a “community serving humanity” The Denis Hurley Centre is provides an enabling environment for care, education and community building in one of the most diverse and challenging neighbourhoods of downtown Durban, close to the busiest road and rail transport hub in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

One of their areas of focus is working to feed, train, care for and find employment for members of the city’s homeless community.

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