Lovelife 2016/17 annual performance; challenges and plans

Sports, Arts and Culture

30 January 2018
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a briefing from Lovelife on its annual performance, finances, challenges and plans. 

Lovelife through its strategic period from 2014-19, aims to:

  • Act as the strategic implementing partner for government on issues relating to young people and in particular with Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA)
  • Provide linkages with National Sport Federations and School Sport events
  • Offer HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns, life skills training, learning materials and other resources to equip the coaches with the “soft skills” required for working with young athletes.

The challenges facing the organisation were varied. These included financial sustainability and the inability to own land on which YCentres were built in Limpopo and Cape Town (Langa Ycentre).

Lovelife’s future plans were:

  • To engage the private sector in becoming real partners to encourage physical activity among the youth – Sponsor exercise facilities at YCentres, rural communities etc
  • Revisit the continued relevance of programs and measure impact in places of implementation
  • Form partnerships with media houses that would enable the conversations about Youth national conversations resulting in action and not just talk.
  • Partner with community radio stations to have a weekly show about youth health.

Lovelife was presently funded mainly by the two government departments (SRSA and DOH).

Committee members welcomed the presentation and expressed concern that organisations such as Lovelife which are accessible to the communities and have genuine proof of working for the people are struggling to be supported. Some asked if Lovelife was still relevant if the scourge of HIV and AIDS was on the increase when the organisation was sorely founded on the premise stemming the scourge of HIV and AIDS amongst the youth.

Meeting report

Briefing by Lovelife

Ms Linda Nkomo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lovelife, took the Committee through the organisation’s annual performance plan and programmes. She described Lovelife’s evolution through the years noting that it had transitioned from being purely an HIV awareness campaign to an organisation that promotes youth health. Lovelife believed in empowering young people with the skills to make proper decisions for themselves in terms of their overall well-being (physical, mental, social and economic). The mission of Lovelife was to promote social activism for healthy living, active lifestyles and HIV consciousness among young people; through:

 – Sports

 – Advocacy

– Information, education and awareness campaigns

– Behavioural change interventions and programmes

Lovelife through its strategic period from 2014-19, would aim to:

-Act as the strategic implementing partner for government on issues relating to young people and in particular with Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA)

- Provide linkages with National Sport Federations and School Sport events

- Offer HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns, life skills training, learning materials and other resources to equip the coaches with the “soft skills” required for working with young athletes.

Lovelife’s deliverables on SRSA Strategy on Mass Participation included: School Sport, Youth Camps, Sport for Social Change and Development, National Volunteer Corps, Community Sport, Move for heath Campaigns as well as Scientific Support (Extreme Sports Study).

Challenges

Financial Sustainability remained an issue. The loss of the Department of Social Development’s R14.9m grant had eroded Lovelife’s reserves and resulted in erratic cash flows and there was the issue of the prolonged use of overdraft facilities costing Lovelife R2.5m at the end Oct 2017. Lovelife had also limited success in sourcing replacement funding. Restricted funding of staff costs and overheads was creating deficits and consequently, Lovelife had had two restructuring exercises in 2016. Also, its national footprint under the current financial circumstances was being revisited and Lovelife had no capacity to deliver on projects that had external dependencies. There also was the lack of ownership of land on which YCentres were built in Limpopo and Cape Town (Langa Ycentre).

Future Plans

Lovelife’s future plans were:

- To engage the private sector in becoming real partners to encourage physical activity among the youth – Sponsor exercise facilities at YCentres, rural communities etc

- Revisit the continued relevance of programs and measure impact in places of implementation

- Form partnerships with media houses that would enable the conversations about Youth national conversations resulting in action and not just talk.

- Partner with community radio stations to have a weekly show about youth health.

Financials

Lovelife was presently funded mainly by the two government departments (SRSA and DOH) and a total allocation of R38, 036,000.00 was received from SRSA, positive inflation adjusted from 2015.

Discussion

Mr P Moteka (EFF) was worried that organisations like Lovelife which were accessible to the communities and have genuine proof of working for the people were struggling with financial support. If they were crippled as a result of lack of funds, who else was going to work for South African communities? Their inability to have the funds they needed would hit the communities they worked with and the kids they work with very hard. The relevant departments had to help them because unlike other organisations that receive millions from government and donors, they were not as visible as Lovelife in South African communities.

Mr Moteka asked what plans Lovelife has to overcome its financial constraints. Did Lovelife meet with the relevant departments to solve those problems? Another issue was the abuse Lovelife was receiving from the local municipalities. That showed the disdain leaders had for sports in our communities. This could be seen even in municipal budgets because sport was the last among their priorities. To talk about a healthy society, sports was indispensable, Why was sports undermined by our leaders? The committee had to try to talk the relevant departments to assist Lovelife and let us stop failing our rural communities. 

Mr D Bergman (DA) said that Lovelife seemed to be moving away from sports to more of a social development and leadership organisation. Looking at the percentage of what sports and recreation had contributed to Lovelife compared to that of the department of health; SRSA had given more of its budget to Lovelife while the department of social services was getting off lightly. Lovelife itself needed to be re-looked at because it was hard to say if their programmes fit into sports and whether SRSA had to be paying for a leadership development course whilst other departments with bigger budgets got away from not making any contributions.

Merely seeing mass participation because of Lovelife reaching out and penetrating the citizens via radio did not translate to face to face dealings like running a five to ten kilometer race and a return on investment for SRSA. Looking at parkrun, it was a movement that had started for free with just few sponsors and had managed to reach far greater members of our communities every weekend and it remained free.  In parkruns, they measure your timings and send you an email and it started without government assistance. Lovelife had to look at partnering with such a movement.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) welcomed the presentation and wanted to know how much Lovelife received from social development, education and health departments? There seemed to be a duplication of programmes and though more funds may be required by Lovelife and programme outcomes could be seen, more human capital was surely needed. What were the plans Lovelife had going forward?

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) asked Lovelife if it still found itself relevant if the scourge of HIV and AIDS was continually increasing since the organisation was solely founded on stemming the tide. From that it then seemed that Lovelife’s mission had not been achieved. Was there a liaison between Lovelife and the department of health as to ascertain by how much the increase in HIV was to date?

In the presentation it had been indicated that one of the values of Lovelife was innovation; how then were they doing things differently? Did Lovelife track the youth as they progressed in life as to see whether they were progressing or not?

On municipalities taking land from Lovelife on a whim; when Lovelife acquired land from the municipalities, what type of agreement/contract had been entered into? If land originally given to Lovelife was just reacquired by the municipalities, did Lovelife go back to ask the reasons why that had been so?

Knowing that some of the social ills bedeviling the youth were caused by poverty, what was Lovelife doing to curb the incidence of the blesser and blessee phenomenon amongst the youth? What were they doing to equip the youth with life skills to wean them away from the ravages of unemployment?

Ms B Abrahams (ANC) pointed out that the grant reconciliation report did not reflect all the grants Lovelife received and wanted to know the reason for that. Did the organisation do different financials for different presentations to various agencies and departments? How involved was the organisation in its core programme which was HIV and AIDS? How sustainable was the coaching programmes the organisation was involved with in the communities? Had Monitoring and Evaluation M&E carried been out to assess the effectiveness of Lovelife’s programmes?

Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) appreciated the presentation and advised Lovelife to engage with SALGA to find a solution to the challenges they faced with some municipalities and NGOs and that the committee would assist where possible. It had to be noted that some of the challenges facing Lovelife emanated from the fight for space with the NGOs in deprived communities; so the solution lay with Lovelife and the NGOs and they both had to form some kind of a partnership.

Problems in deprived communities must be found with the community themselves and finding such solutions cannot be organic.

Programmes unique to Lovelife are increasingly being incorporated into the projects of other NGOs, so they become competitors hence the fight for space. Secondly, a kind of partnership had to be configured with SRSA and leveraged. The committee would want to see more outcomes related to sports such as an increase in physical activity.

The Chairperson asked why the organisation has so much overdraft when they are been supported by various sister departments? She wanted to know who was giving what and how much? Was Lovelife still funded by private partners?  She emphasized that the committee would like to have every entity it was overseeing to produce data of their activities in the rural areas. Without that data, the committee would insist that there was no impact of Lovelife’s activities in the rural areas. The committee was amazed to learn that land given to the organisation and resources put into Lovelife could be retaken, remodeled and given to other organisations by the municipalities without consulting Lovelife. The money and resources Lovelife had invested was being demolished. The committee would monitor that kind of unbecoming behaviour through SALGA. Money used by a government entity to build sporting facilities was being destroyed by another sphere of government; That was irresponsible and unacceptable. Did Lovelife relate with an entity of government called SAIDS in ensuring that young people stay off drugs?

Ms Nkomo replied that Lovelife had reached a point whereby it would no longer only rely on government funding alone to survive; and the problems with the department of social development were testimony to that fact. As a result, Lovelife had being engaging with Gauteng based businesses that had an interest in supporting Lovelife but not as a trust. They had wanted to support Lovelife as a part of economic development initiatives and because of the conditions of not funding a trust; Lovelife had formed a Pty company which would act as a commercial arm in partnership with some corporates in Gauteng.  This would also be an income generating initiative for Lovelife to fund the deficits it had.  Profits generated can now feed into the trust.

In terms of the breakdown of what Lovelife received from the various funders, they were in the detailed financials; the details of every funder had been captured. Grant reconciliation had been done because Lovelife’s financial year ran from January to February as opposed to April to March for the government so there was a portion it received in one year that fed into another.  If the committee’s wish was to be presented with a total financial statement each time, then Lovelife would oblige.

In line with Lovelife’s vision, when referring to young people’s health, it would be amiss if sports and recreation and being active were not part of the definition because they were very vital. Unfortunately the definition came under health and it got consumed in it. The same concerns had been raised by the DG when Lovelife had a stakeholder engagement with him. Healthy youth in SA to Lovelife comprised of physical health (whether they had disease or not), mental health and social as well. On youth empowerment, the skills department at Lovelife worked with the youth to apply for SETAs so that young people could acquire the skills and experience to gain work placement.

Lovelife had a web and smartphone application to date; to enable young people to apply for Learnerships with the SETAs. Lovelife had different kinds of agreement with the municipalities. Some municipalities would give a letter stating that they were donating the land totally to Lovelife. In such cases there are problems because Lovelife had a document stating that the land had been donated and transferred to Lovelife. Majority of them did not want to donate the land but rather gave Lovelife permission to use the land. That was where there were problems because Municipalities gave the same permissions to other organisations similar to Lovelife. Going forward, Lovelife would lobby for exclusive use of the land should but should Lovelife go out of existence, such land could then revert back to the municipality. Some of the problematic agreements had been entered into in early 2000 and now in 2018 none of the current leadership had been there when the agreements took place.  In some instances there were only minutes of a meeting but no legal transfer had occurred.

On the attempts on the recovery of funds from Department of Social Development (DSD), Lovelife did attempt to recover those monies since 2015.  It had engaged the department even up to the minister trying to make DSD understand that the consequences would mean that people would be retrenched and the likelihood of them queuing up for social grants. Lovelife even obtained legal advice and was told that the agreement it had did not compel or oblige DSD to refund Lovelife any monies spent. That was the risk Lovelife had taken and it was feeling the pain now.

On Monitoring and Evaluation, it was a focus area that had to be strengthened by Lovelife because a lot of funders were no longer interested only in numbers but on impact. On what happened to Lovelife’s initial funders; when Lovelife was started in 1999, it was funded by the government and predominantly by the Kaiser foundation and Kaiser’s commitment was only for five years. Since being CEO of Lovelife three years ago, there had not been more corporate funders but part of the ogarnisations strategic intentions going forward would be to engage corporate funders.

Lovelife was still relevant to the HIV sphere because there was still an HIV prevention stand alone programmatic component in its objectives. Lovelife was a part of the implementers’ of the national “she conquers” campaign launched by the deputy president of the country and Lovelife was working directly with the DOH as a part of the support it received from DOH. Lovelife was also working with the department of education although Lovelife was not getting any form of financial support from them at the moment.

On working with SAIDS, Lovelife had not worked with them yet but would see how to synergize with them. Lovelife had not been tracking young people it had worked with because that number could be very vast however; it tracked its peer educators.

The Chairperson thanked the honourable members and Lovelife for their presentation. She asserted that it is always beneficial to this committee to interact with Lovelife and urged them to keep up the good work.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

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