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Saint Giles turns 70

10 May 2022

Staff members at Saint Giles together with patients from the remedial therapy centre are looking forward to the birthday celebration on May 29.

There are currently 22 patients using the remedial therapy centre and 75 disabled staff members employed at the work centre.

FOR 70 years, non-profit organisation, Saint Giles, has uplifted the disabled community of Durban. Based in the Point area of south Durban, Saint Giles was founded by wheel-chair-user journalist, Kerry Malt on May 29, 1952.

At the time, the NPO served simply to visit the sick in hospitals or at home. Seven decades later, as Saint Giles celebrates its birthday this month, the organisation has flourished with several branches – including a remedial therapy centre where people with disabilities access quality rehabilitative treatment and a work centre where they can find employment packaging products for several companies.

Other activities at Saint Giles include an educational trust, offering bursaries to university students; a charity shop, offering affordable items to the public and mobility devices for hire including wheelchairs, crutches and walkers available to the public at reasonable rates.

There are currently 22 patients using the remedial therapy centre and 75 disabled staff members employed at the work centre. Of these, 30 staff are contracted to work at the National Blood Institute in Pinetown on behalf of Saint Giles.

Reflecting on recent years at Saint Giles, marketing and donor liaison, Brenda Craig, said they are inspired to face tough times by the beneficiaries they serve.

“What a 70 year it has been, especially in the last few years. First we faced the Covid-19 pandemic, then we had the July unrest and rioting and now, more recently, the horrific and extensive damage caused by the floods.

“How do we go on? If you ever get demoralised, come and see how people living with disabilities work hard in the remedial therapy centre to get their strength back after a stroke or car accident; how those in the work centre keep our customers happy with their professional packaging, sorting and assembling skills,” said Craig.

70 years in a snapshot

Craig shared a few highlights along the Saint Giles 70 year history.

Remedial therapy began early in the NPO’s timeline when Saint Giles took over a remedial exercise clinic based at the Red Cross Garage where 100 patients were treated each month. By 1956, 358 patients were being treated on a monthly basis as Saint Giles opened a clinic on Anton Lembede Street (then Smith Street) where they rented Bidgen House. In 1962 the NPO moved to their current premises on the corner of Bell and Prince Streets, after obtaining a 90 year lease form the  then Durban City Council. Here Saint Giles built a clinic and office, refurbishing the remedial gym in 1998 and increasing the gym’s floor area by 60% in 1999.

A small work centre was established in 1975 when Saint Giles started to offer employment opportunities to the disabled community. In 2005, The Unilever food packaging area was developed. A charity shop was established in 2010.

In 2012, Saint Giles installed a Video Inkjet machine to their Unilver packaging line.  In 2017, when Saint Giles celebrated 65 years, their  remedial gym patient numbers soared to 767. In the same year, a team of 15 cyclists flew the Saint Giles flag, competing at the Amashova Cycle Race.

Source: Berea Mail

 

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