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Social Worker Internship


Homelessness doesn’t discriminate – it impacts all races and ages. The social worker and staff help the homeless to participate in everyday activities, function independently and assist with development better by using self-care through counselling. The Social Worker provides therapeutic counselling & group sessions to empower the homeless and reunify them with their families. Other services offered include Job Readiness Programmes, Skills Programmes, employment opportunities, skills empowerment etc.  The homeless adults of ‘The Saving Shelter’ are all desperately in need of this kind of care, so if you’re thinking of going into this caring profession, or are already training for it, an internship at Saving LivesShelter' is perfect the ideal place for you. You’ll get hands-on, practical experience working side by side with the social worker at the centre.

Internship Highlights:

·  Work daily alongside the centre’s social worker

·  Assist the clients with setting goals to reintegrate into society- Personal    Development Plans.

·  Spending time with clients who are so appreciative of the effort you put in.

·  Seeing the clients develop and grow

·  Gaining hands-on, practical experience in the area of a social work.

·  Spending your spare time enjoying the attractions of Cape Town and South Africa.

At a Glance

At a Glance

Project duration: Min 4 weeks - Max 12 weeks

Location of project: South Peninsula, around 45 minutes from central Cape Town Airport to fly into: Cape Town International (CPT)

Accommodation: Intern house, Kommetjie Road, Fish Hoek. This is also where your orientation will take place. 

Activities: Work side by side with the centres social worker, assisting with screening and personal development programmes, sit in on counselling sessions, administration.

Getting to the project: Interns catch a mini bus taxi between the intern house and the project. The taxis stop outside intern house and transport them straight to the local village. Short walk up the road to the centre. Cost R11 each way.

Working hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 3pm

Accommodation: Shared dormitory room in Intern house, same sex rooms

Food: Food is not included; you will need to purchase your own food (budget approximately US$50 per week)

Return transfer: This is for your own cost. However, the in-country team can assist with booking final transport. Budget on approximately R400

You need to organize: Flights, insurance, visas, return airport transfer, local transport, food

Internship Experience

Internship Experience

Established in 1996 ‘Saving Lives Shelter’ provides accommodation and food for adults who have lost their homes due to financial pressure, personal tragedy or drug addiction. Residents generally stay for an average of 6 months, during which time the staff at ‘Saving Lives Shelter’ assist them with rehabilitation by addressing substance abuse, re-uniting them with their families, helping re-instate their pension and or medical aid cover or by moving them on to more permanent accommodation.

The Shelter accommodates 65 residents‚ 45 men and 20 women. In winter months the shelter adds an additional ten bed spaces, they would love to add more beds however space and staffing is limited. This is to help cater for an expected increase in the number of street people seeking shelter during the cold winter months Their beds are almost always full.

The Shelter does not charge people to stay‚ but asks for a monthly contribution of up to R650. Residents get three meals per day seven days a week.

The Shelters Social Worker spends five days per week at the centre. She is highly experienced in the field of working with the homeless and also has years of experience working with children at a childcare centre. She acts as a mentor to Volunteer and Explore interns and will guide and assist you as you go through the programme.

Internships last a minimum of four weeks and is a maximum of twelve weeks.



Day 1 (Monday) – hello and welcome!

Arrive at Cape Town International Airport (airport code CPT) where you’ll be met at the airport and taken to our volunteer house in Fish Hoek. You’ll need to arrive before 4.15pm so that you’re in time for orientation at 5pm. The journey from the airport to Fish Hoek takes about 45 minutes and you’ll see the magnificent Table Mountain on the way! Orientation will take you through what you can expect from your project, dos and don’ts and how to stay safe. It’s also a great opportunity to ask any burning questions you’ve got. Afterwards you can relax and prepare before your first day at the project.

Note: If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Cape Town before 4.15pm then we recommend you fly in a day early. We can arrange an early airport pickup for you including one night’s accommodation. Please give us a call for more information.

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Introduction to the Shelter!

This morning you’ll be off to the project and our team will be on hand to make sure you know where you’re going and get you settled. You’ll meet the dedicated staff and the clients.

Day 3 and 4 (Wednesday and Thursday)

You’ll start getting to know the clients, learn more about their background and how you will be assisting the social worker and staff onsite. The staff at the centre will ensure that you learn as much as you can from your time with them

Days 6 and 7 (Saturday to Sunday) – it’s the weekend!

Spend your free time as you please. Cape Town offers so much to do. There are loads of stunning beaches to choose from, where you can get a tan and relax. Or you could visit the city, climb Table Mountain, check out a penguin colony, go wine tasting or pop in to the many fascinating museums and art galleries. Alternatively you could just chill at the volunteer house in the garden or around the swimming pool.

Following weeks – keep up the good work!

Your weekdays will be spent at the centre and you’ll get to know the routine and the clients. You’ll start to see their progression and how much your help can have an influence. You’ll learn more about the community and may even get involved in community activities such as beach clean-ups etc. It is likely to become a place that’s very dear to your heart.

Your last day (Monday) – goodbye, we’ll miss you!

It will be sad to say goodbye to your clients and team you have been working with at the centre but you’ll have so many special memories and so much experience to add to your future career. The return transfer from Fish Hoek to Cape Town International is not covered within your project fee but our regular transfer company will be able to organise the journey. Budget around R400.

Your Role

Your Role

‘Saving Lives Shelter’ runs a daily programme Monday to Friday with the clients waking up at 6:30 am The day’s activities generally include Job Search, appointments with either the social worker or manager, general chores, groupwork, individual counselling (social worker). The clients receive 3 meals a day. Following the guidelines of the programme mentor, interns will be able to assist with all aspects of the daily programme, contributing to the clients emotional, physical and mental development by helping them to take part in activities and offering them much-needed encouragement and counselling. You will also be involved in community assistance, following the guidelines of your mentor.

Some activities you can expect to be involved in:

Assisting with screening of clients

Sitting in on Counselling sessions

Assisting with setting client’s goal

Assisting with Public Awareness

Community outreach

Family support

Fundraising and social media

Work hours are usually from 08h30am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.



Minimum qualifications and experience required to take part in this internship:

Grade 12 certificate

CV, including certification of any completed courses.

Letter of motivation

Please note: work experience in the field of a social worker is beneficial but not essential.

CRB Check

About the Project

About the Project

‘Saving Lives Shelter’ is dedicated to helping the homeless with a 6 month personal  programme – by providing accommodation and meals for adults who have lost their homes due to financial pressure, personal tragedy or drug addiction. The Shelter assists with rehabilitation by addressing substance abuse, re-uniting clients with their families, helping re-instate their pension and assistance with finding employment. The shelter accommodates 65 residents‚ 45 men and 20 women. The Shelter does not charge people to stay‚ but asks for a monthly contribution of up to R650. Residents get three meals per day seven days a week.

The Shelter offers:

Accommodation for the homeless

3 meals a day 7 days a week

Counselling and setting of goals

Family re-unification services

Skills Programmes

Assistance with finding employment

Integration back into society

Community outreach

While you're here

While you're here


Our comfortable volunteer and intern house in Fish Hoek will be your happy home for this trip. It has dormitory-style, same sex rooms with bunk beds, a maximum of six people per room. There are three bathrooms with hot, running water, showers and regular flush loos. There’s also a lounge area, balcony, lush garden, and barbeque. You’ll be only a short distance from the shops and beach. You’ll find lockers at the accommodation to lock your valuables away but please remember to bring a padlock and keys with you! You’ll need to pay R1000 deposit when you arrive which will be given back to you when you leave if everything’s still as you found it.


You’ll be self-catering while in the house. The kitchen has everything you need from cookers, loads of fridge space and microwave to toaster, kettle and kitchen utensils. You can eat at the dining room table or lounge on the balcony. There’s a barbeque outside or, as we call it in SA, a braai, which is the best way to cook on a warm evening. You can also grab takeaways at the many spots in the town, about 10 minutes’ walk away.

Note: While in the house you will be responsible for keeping the place clean so please tidy up after yourself, especially in the kitchen. Budget around US$50 per week for groceries, as prices are similar to home.

Facilities and the area

Washing can be done at the laundry down the road: simply drop off your clothes and pick them up later!

Cape Town has a temperate climate but winter is still chilly so pack warm jumpers and even some cosy socks as SA doesn’t have central heating.

Bedding is provided but bring a sleeping bag for away weekends and extra warmth.

Bring along a towel

Fish Hoek’s main street is only 10 minutes’ walk away where you’ll find a supermarket, serviced laundry and internet café, as well as banks and other shopping. The beach is just a stone’s throw beyond that!

Bars, restaurants, more shopping and more beautiful beaches are only 10 minutes’ drive away.

Fish Hoek is on the train line and trains are a great way to travel but they stop running at 7pm.

Taxis to Cape Town CBD cost around US$35/ R350 each way.

What you get

Expert help-desk

We're always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.

Thorough project briefing materials

Once you’ve booked you'll receive a full pack of all the information you need for the project. It contains general information about volunteering, your specific project and South Africa as well as advice on safety, visas and inoculations.

Airport pickup

Don’t worry about arriving in a new country on your own. We’ll be there to welcome you and take you to your accommodation.

Arrival orientation

Soon after you arrive you’ll attend a thorough orientation with our team. It covers everything you need to know about your next few days, dos and don’ts and your safety. You can ask any questions and find out more about the fun stuff to do around Cape Town and South Africa.

Accommodation and meals

Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are included with some. We only use locally-owned and operated accommodation so that part of your placement fee is filtering back into the local economy. Most projects offer homestay, guesthouse or shared volunteer houses as standard accommodation, but some offer the chance to upgrade to a more comfortable living standard.

24/7 emergency support

We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.

After you've booked

  • You will receive a welcome email confirming your booking
  • You’ll receive a full project pack with all the info you need
  • You’ll be asked for any extra info if we need it – such as doctor’s notes for medical conditions, or maybe a CV on some projects
  • You’ll need to pay if you haven’t paid already (at least 90 days before travelling)

Then the fun starts! Next you should:

  • Book your flights
  • Arrange suitable travel insurance
  • Get a visa for your trip if it's needed
  • Visit a nurse or travel clinic for advice on inoculations and malaria prevention
  • Start packing and come and join us!

*Remember to keep our contact details in a safe place in your hand luggage in case you need to contact us during your travels.

About South Africa

South Africans are patriotic and passionate about their country. And it’s not despite the country’s famously troubled history – it’s because of it! The people of this democratic country are so proud of how far they have come from the dark days of Apartheid and it makes us grateful for the diversity of cultures and languages that make up our amazing rainbow nation.

South Africa is a country of diversity in so many ways. It’s not a big country but travelling across the length and breadth of it, you’ll encounter an incredible range of climates and landscapes. There’s beautiful Cape Town, with its Mediterranean feel, pristine white beaches, sparkling oceans and magnificent Table Mountain providing the craggy backdrop for every setting. Travel east along the Garden Route with its picture-postcard coastal villages and you’ll eventually reach Durban and surrounds, a tropical area where the sun shines almost every day, the sea is warm and the surfing is fantastic! Then there’s the rugged Drakensberg mountain range, a place of rich Zulu heritage, spectacular views and jagged sweeps of peaks.  Further north you’ll hit South Africa’s famous ‘veld’ or bush where you’ll find Africa’s big five and many thousands of other species of animals, hiding out in landscapes that are lit at sunset by the most vivid orange, pinks and purples.

There are so many things to see and do here that you’ll need years. But if your time is limited, here’s our top five must-dos:

Game viewing

You can’t come to Africa and not experience the amazing animals, the wild and beautiful African bush and the chorus of an African dawn. Kruger National Park is the most popular choice but there are a host of other parks in the northern parts of South Africa and the Free State as well as KwaZulu-Natal, offering a range of options from the most luxurious accommodation with chefs at your service to DIY game viewing and camping.

Adrenalin adventures

Adventure is the name of the game in this crazy country and if it’s outdoors and adrenalin-inducing, you’ll find it here. From the highest bungee jump and highest commercial abseiling in the world to shark cage diving, downhill mountain biking, trail running, walking safaris, big wave surfing and multi-day hiking, there’s something for ever thrill seeker.


South Africa has thousands of miles of glorious coastline, with Blue Flag beaches and hidden gems dotted along its length. There’s beaches for the glamorous, where you can go to see and be seen, beaches perfect for families, beaches for walking, beaches for swimming and beaches for watersports. There’s probably beaches which have never been trodden by a tourist before. Go on, we dare you to find it!

Nightlife, restaurants and entertainment

No holiday would be complete without a few good nights out and South Africa knows how to entertain. With so many cultures making up our population, there’s loads of delicious food on offer full of every fresh ingredient you could think of. There are pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to suit every taste. South Africa is famous for its wonderful wines and there’s a craft beer revolution happening right here. Pack your dancing shoes!

A taste of township and culture

South Africa has a rich, tumultuous history dotted with dismal lows and incredible highs – and full of astounding stories from amazing people. It’s what makes South Africa the colourful place it is. Museums of every shape and size document the various aspects of our human and natural history, arts and culture – you’ll find them all over the country. Or why not take a township tour and experience the true heart of South African culture?  If you’re visiting Cape Town, come to Kommetjie and visit Masiphumelele with the Township Sisters, our special Volunteer and Explore partners, and help support the sustainable development of this vibrant township.


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