Youth Safety and Religious Partnership Programme (YSRP)

Youth Safety and Religious Partnership Programme (YSRP) – Be inspired

In a nutshell

The Youth Safety and Religious Partnership Programme (YSRP) is a holiday programme for youth across the Western Cape, particularly youth residing in communities with high levels of crime and violence. The programme, which is an initiative of the Western Cape Department of Community Safety, aims to keep youth occupied during the school holidays. The YSRP seeks to reduce the likelihood of youth engaging in gang and drug related crime, by instead providing them with opportunities to engage in pro-social activities.

What we do

The YSRP is intended for children and youth, between 14 and 21 years of age. This age category was chosen as they are a particularly high-risk age group, with regards to risk for violence victimization and perpetration, as well as risk for engagement in negative activities such as recreational drug use.

Young people are vulnerable to making unhealthy and risky lifestyle choices when they have limited access to recreational opportunities. This is particularly the case in areas characterised by high levels of crime, where there is easy access to drugs and where gang activity is rife. The risk for youth engagement in these antisocial activities is increased during the holiday periods, when youth have far more free time.

With the high prevalence of gang and drug related crimes in the Western Cape, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety (Western Cape DoCS) developed the YSRP with the purpose of keeping youth occupied during the school holidays. The aim of the YSRP is to create positive, pro-social opportunities for youth during the holidays in order to minimise the risk of them falling prey to negative social behaviours, such as drug abuse and gangsterism. In addition, the YSRP seeks to keep youth off the streets and provide them with positive and sufficient adult supervision.

The YSRP holiday programme is implemented in June/July, December/January and Easter school holidays. The programme was first implemented by Western Cape DoCS in 2012 and is now in its sixth year of implementation. It focuses on youth who live in high risk areas in the Western Cape. This includes areas which form part of the Community Safety Improvement Plan.

Priority areas where Western Cape DoCS partners with multiple organisations in implementing the YSRP, include: Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Bonteheuwel, Elsies River, Wesbank, Kraaifontein, Hanover Park, Delft, Atlantis, Gugulethu, Lavender Hill, Manenberg, Bishop Lavis, Nyanga and Worcester.

How we do it

Partnering with Faith-Based Organisations

Selected faith-based organisations (FBOs) in high risk communities, partner with Western Cape DoCS in implementing the YSRP holiday programmes. The FBO partners are organisations established in their community and are thus suitable to facilitate these programmes. Prior to each winter, summer and Easter holiday period, Western Cape DoCS advertises and invites FBOs to apply for YSRP funding to run a holiday programme in their community. FBOs which apply are vetted and those who are approved to run a YSRP programme are provided with funding from Western Cape DoCS. The funding amounts to R50 per child per day and can only be provided for a maximum of five days.

Nature of the YSRP Activities

The specific schedule and content of activities is left to the discretion of FBOs. However, in general, Western Cape DoCS requires that the programmes consist of sporting activities, recreational games and activities, and/or youth development/ life skills/ career development activities. Some component must include a safety promotion or crime prevention activity, such as information on practical safety tips. Further, while the different FBO programmes vary, their activities are required to include a focus on the following topics: awareness and prevention of drug abuse, gangsterism, gender-based violence, child trafficking, HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy. In addition, the partner FBO must ensure that the children and youth attending their programme receive appropriate adult supervision at all times as well as at least one meal per day. 

What we have achieved

This programme has reached more than 108 000 youths during school holidays since its inception1. A budget of R5.670 million has been allocated for implementation of the YSRP in the 2018/19 financial period.

The YSRP was formally evaluated over a six-month period, between September 2017 and February 2018, by external consultants, Creative Consultants & Development Works. A mixed methods approach was used, with qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis being employed in the evaluation process. Positive findings from the evaluation report include:

  • The YSRP is currently in its 6th year of implementation and has kept approximately 94,324 children and youth of the street, during the programme period.
  • A key achievement of the YSRP is not only in its achievement of keeping thousands of at-risk children and youth safe during the holidays, but in its provision of stimulating activities and life skills. In addition, not only does the adult supervision ensure safety of the children but it provides children with an opportunity to connect with and learn from positive adult role models.
  • A major achievement of the programme is the ability of these programmes to function effectively in high risk communities. Some FBOs specifically mitigate for safety risks by partnering with local stakeholders including SAPS, CPFs, and neighbourhood watches, who would be visible and patrol their programme venue. In addition, FBOs that are programme venues, are required to be physically secure – fenced and gated. Any weapons brought into venues are confiscated. However, this is not always the case with all FBOs and consequently, in the future there needs to be increased focus on monitoring and ensuring that all FBOs are maintaining effective partnerships with SAPS, CPFs and NHWs during the programme periods.
  • Some of the children and youth attending the YSRP programmes have identified how they have felt safer when they are participating in the programmes than when they are elsewhere; this was not only a feeling of physical safety but also one of emotionally safety.

1. Western Cape Government. (28 March 2018). Statement by Minister Dan Plato – Community Safety Budget 2018/19. Available at:

What we have learned


The February 2018 YSRP Evaluation Report identified the following challenges:

The Target Group is not being adequately reached

There are more younger children attending the YSRP programmes than those targeted for the programme (14-21-year-olds). There are several reasons for this, namely:

  • Firstly, FBOs often do not want to turn away children who want to attend their programmes, even if these children are too young; this is partly owing to the vulnerability of these young children.
  • Secondly, older children who attend programmes are often responsible for looking after their younger siblings and so they bring them along with them. However, many other older youth have voiced that they do not want to attend a programme which is also attended by younger children.
  • Thirdly, some of the older children have additional responsibilities, such as doing holiday jobs or caring for younger siblings, which they are required to do during school holidays. Consequently, older children do not always have time to attend holiday programmes.
  • Fourthly, many in the targeted age group appear to perceive themselves as too mature for the programme activities. Many of the youth also find the structured and supervised nature of the holiday programme, unappealing.

To make the programme more appealing to youth, the programme should potentially be altered to make it less structured and to focus more on positive socialising activities and activities which are not easy to access outside of the YSRP programmes. In addition, the programme should be broken down more by age category within the 14-21 age group, so that the programmes more specifically target the needs and interests of the different age categories within this larger age group.

Marketing of the Programmes
The FBOs do not always market their programmes effectively, which consequently results in lack of awareness about the programmes.  Further, when marketing is done it often does not focus on the target age group or is not done in a manner which is appealing to the youth.

Resource Constraints
The FBOs need more funding to run the programmes as the current grant is not always sufficient to cover the costs of running the programmes effectively.  In addition, FBOs often struggle with staff constraints. 

Administrative Challenges

  • There are also administrative challenges in the application and vetting of FBOs. In the future, to mitigate for these challenges, Western Cape DoCs is considering developing an online application and vetting process for the selection of FBOs to implement the YSRP.
  • There is also a need for improved oversight and coordination of the YSRP, to ensure a whole-of-society approach to its implementation.

Challenge of Gang Violence
While many of the FBOs have implemented effective safety measures and have partnered with local safety stakeholders to ensure the safety of programme attendees, gang violence still remains a challenge in certain instances. Gang violence, and other forms of violence and crime, can also place programme attendees at risk on their way to and from the programme venues.

Going Forward

  • Modifying the programme approach, so that it can also have more intermediate and long-term impact for beneficiaries and consequently the communities they reside in.
  • Expansion of the programme is not a priority at this stage, but instead improving the planning, financing, management and monitoring of the existing programme being run. The programme should be replicated once the programme model has been modified and more standardised procedures and templates have been created.

For further information on the Youth Safety and Religious Partnership (YSRP) programme, please contact:

Mr Mansour Lagkar, YSRP Project Manager, Western Cape DoCS:

  • Tel: +27 (0)21 483 5621

Ms Cordelia Casa, YSRP Project Administrator, Western Cape DoCS:

  • Tel: +27 (0)21 483 6547
  • Email:

*Content for this project profile was largely drawn from the Western Cape Department of Community Safety’s ''Evaluation of the YSRP: EVALUATION REPORT'' (February 2018).

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