LoveLife 2020 Annual Report; challenges and plans; with Deputy Minister

Sports, Arts and Culture

17 August 2021
Chairperson: Ms B Dlulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

LoveLife is funded mainly by two government departments: Health and Sports, Arts and Culture and aims to promote healthy, active lifestyles and leadership development amongst youth. It gave a briefing on its annual report, challenges and plans. The challenges facing the organisation were mostly financial constraints due to government budget cuts.

LoveLife’s future plans include:
• Development of holistic athletes.
• Increase awareness of health among young people through sports and recreational activities.
• Reduce risk for non-communicable diseases through increased physical activity.
• Provide psychosocial support to improve mental well being.

Committee members welcomed the presentation but expressed concern about the organisation's impact on communities and its accessibility to rural communities. They asked for impact assessments of its programmes and cautioned against its high administrative costs.

Meeting report

LoveLife 2020 Annual Report; challenges and plans
Ms Linda Nkomo, LoveLife CEO, 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 believes in empowering young people with the skills to make proper decisions for themselves for their overall well-being (physical, mental, social and economic). The mission of LoveLife was to promote social activism for healthy living, active lifestyles and psychosocial support among young people; through:
– Sports
– Advocacy
– Information, education and awareness campaigns
– Behavioural change interventions and programmes

LoveLife through its new strategic period, would aim to:
- Use groundBreakers to provide safe recreation spaces for young people and promote mass participation
- Maximize access to sport, recreation and physical education in every school in South Africa
- Promote participation in sport and recreation by initiating and implementing targeted campaigns
- Increase levels of national unity and socially cohesive communities
- Improve the health and well-being of the nation by providing mass participation opportunities through active recreation

LoveLife’s mandate from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture – although the mandate does not link to arts and culture the LoveLife Y-Centres have always been facilities in the community where young people engage in activities linked to arts and culture as the organisation has always seen the need for these activities to strengthen programme delivery for complete, creative connected young people.

Government redirection of funds towards Covid-19 meant reduced funding for the organization which resulted in an organizational restructure. The restructure reduced the number of coordinators in provinces as follows: Eastern Cape reduced from 2 to 1, Gauteng from 3 to 1, KZN from 2 to 1, Mpumalanga from 2 to 1. This means that addressing some district takes a bit more time. GroundBreakers were reduced from 219 to 200 reducing the number of young people who receive a stipend, work experience and an increased chance at formal employment. Funding cuts decreased reach for valuable programmes in communities who need them most. A major delay in signing of the service level agreement (SLA) and business plan meant it received its funding tranche in the final quarter of 2020/21 that greatly impacted implementation

Future Plans
LoveLife’s future plans were:
- Utilize their online platforms to deliver programmes
- Establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Basic Education
- Work with federations to register new clubs in communities for increased participation in sport
- Improve psychosocial support for ministerial bursary holders and their parents
- Be more creative in how programmes are delivered.

LoveLife is funded mainly by two government departments – National Department of Health (NDoH) and Department of Sports, Arts and Culture (DSAC). The 2019/20 DSAC allocation was R45.2m and R32.8m in 2020/21, after an R8m budget cut due to COVID-19 reallocations.

Mr T Mhlongo (DA) welcomed the presentation and asked how LoveLife measured their outcomes and if they were able to meet their objectives. He asked about their financials in allocating money to its different programmes. Based on the report, the relationship between SASCOC and LoveLife was not made clear. Budget cuts for all departments have affected operations of other organisations so why does LoveLife continue spending above R2m annually on IT, are there any efforts being made to curtail those costs?

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) was not impressed by LoveLife's marketing strategy due to the lack of visibility in electronic and print media, which may cause people to miss out on essential information. Young people are experiencing a lot of challenges, has the organisation been able to offer psychosocial support? 

Alcohol abuse is prevalent amongst young people. Are the programmes and activities relevant to tackling this issue? The safety of children in schools continues to be a problem. What are the selection criteria to determine the best candidates? He requested they make the coaches' details available to the Committee.

Mr M Zondi (ANC) asked about the target audience LoveLife focused on in their programmes, and what skills participants can gain from being part of the LoveLife developmental programmes. Post LoveLife programmes is there a tracking system to monitor people who were part of the programmes to measure if these have been beneficial? Does LoveLife assess potential donors and funders it seeks to align with?

Ms V Malomane (ANC) welcomed the presentation and asked for clarity about LoveLife’s target audience. How long do the groundBreakers last with LoveLife, and why does LoveLife not have groundBreakers above the age of 25? The National Lottery has not funded LoveLife – what challenges has that brought to LoveLife?

Mr D Joseph (DA) wanted to understand the roles of the twelve trustees and if they volunteer or are paid. How did the nationwide looting affect LoveLife's activities? 

The activities and programmes are done in different provinces, yet the provincial governments and legislatures do not fund LoveLife, why is that the case? He asked for an explanation why the Department of Social Development stopped funding LoveLife. Is the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture involved in any of the planning and implementation of the programmes and activities? He cautioned LoveLife about its high expenditure on operational costs.

Mr M Seabi (ANC) appreciated the presentation and asked how the board of trustees was appointed to their roles and if they received any form of payment. If so, how much do they receive individually? He was concerned about its lack of visibility and accessibility, especially in rural areas.

Many communities and schools require assistance from LoveLife; what criteria does it use to determine the appropriate beneficiaries of their programmes? The absence of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Basic Education remains a problematic issue that needs attention. 

The recent budget cuts require LoveLife to do more with less. Was LoveLife able to identify struggling programmes and has any impact assessment been done? One of the objectives of LoveLife is to aid struggling community sports clubs. Given their accessibility challenge, how have they made it possible to assist community sports, especially in rural areas? Does LoveLife experience cash flow problems and has there been an intervention internally or externally to assist with the matter?

Ms R Adams (ANC) asked how LoveLife can assist with Early Childhood Development (ECD) to start developing young people early. She raised a concern about the deteriorating standard of school sports. This Committee, including past Committees, has emphasized the need for LoveLife to have a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Basic Education. 

Covid-19 restrictions limited public interaction, and most programmes of LoveLife are physical contact activities. Given these difficulties, are there online educational platforms it has used since the start of lockdown? She requested a list of areas LoveLife operates in within different provinces. 

Ms V Van Dyk (DA) appreciated the proper preparation. She requested that LoveLife publish their 2020 annual financial report on their website and sought clarity about the identification and recruitment process of coaches involved in different programmes and which schools are involved in the programmes. Most areas struggle with access to information. How does LoveLife look to improve on being accessible to more people? 

The recent media reports about sexual abuse in schools is a cause for concern. How has LoveLife and SASCOC addressed sexual abuse in schools? She pointed to the proposed plans to establish 160 sports clubs and asked how far it has gone to ensure all have been successfully implemented and in which communities these clubs were launched.

LoveLife response
Ms Nkomo replied that the board of trustees are part of LoveLife voluntarily and they are not getting paid for the roles they perform. Their roles include being part of the sub-committees which operate under the LoveLife board.

LoveLife frequently reports to DSAC on its operations and finances, and submissions about its performance are always sent to the Department. What determines its performance is what funding is available to it. LoveLife avoids using the budget to go to other areas for different programmes. The performance report will be made available to the Committee after the meeting. 

For the past financial year, LoveLife reported a surplus from their audited finances. The audited financials will be re-circulated to the Portfolio Committee. What mainly contributed to the generated surplus was primarily the services charged to the corporates. LoveLife charged up to 20% from the funding offered to go directly to overheads.

The 2020 Annual Report has not yet been made available because it is still in progress. It will be available on the website by mid-September. LoveLife uses a peer education model. Their primary focus is on the post-matric group; it seeks to prepare them for early adulthood and target them in their most vulnerable period. The groundBreakers often further their studies post-matric, and others receive employment based on the skills they have acquired in the LoveLife programmes for the one or two years they have been with LoveLife. 

It would be strenuous for the organisation to operate from the early childhood development stage until the age of 35. Hence, the focus was on the age group that is primarily vulnerable and still dealing with issues around their sexuality, adolescence and early adult years.

LoveLife submitted a proposal to the National Lottery, which was rejected in October 2020; this was mainly due to the timing of when the proposal was sent. There were advised to wait for the second call to be made, and they are currently in the process of resubmitting their proposal.

LoveLife has kept a database of the young people who were part of their programmes since 2001. They try to keep track of where they are in life but often that is a challenging task due to the massive data. 

LoveLife sets out its plans from the onset on how the funding will be spent on key areas of communities. The impact assessment was last done at the end of 2018. There has not been a recent one because it is about to enter a new strategic period. It is constantly reviewing its programmes to identify gaps and areas of improvement.

The organisation noted the comment on staff costs and promised to work on cutting down operational costs. LoveLife has no MoU with the Department of Basic Education; the two parties are working on establishing it. The organisation has relied on the strong relationships with schools and their legitimacy in communities over the years. The list of the communities and programmes LoveLife has done over the year will be available and to the Portfolio Committee. 

Ms Francina Molelemane, LoveLife Board Trustee, stated that the IT costs were high as they covers all fifteen offices nationwide. Each has running costs of roughly R25 000 per month. The costs include telecommunications, IT infrastructure, internet and servers. The organisation struggled with cash flow problems due to the allocated funding, which in turn impacted the operations of LoveLife. 

Ms Beryl Traore, LoveLife Head of Programmes and Operations, noted that they collaborated with SASCOC because they are linked to their Coach For Life programme. It is aligned to the national coaching framework, which is monitored and implemented by SASCOC. Teachers make up most of the coaches as part of the schools' sports programme and community coaches who have received sufficient training and play an essential role in school entertainment projects. 

Despite the unimpressive social media following, LoveLife's social media posts receive impressive engagements; people can engage content without being followers. The social media report reflects on Facebook and Twitter a reach of 6.3 million people online with an average of 799 000 interactions, and a reach of 5 million with an average of 550 interactions respectively, print media has a reach of 100 000 and broadcast has a reach of 87 000 interactions. The information on social media reach will be made available to the Committee.

LoveLife has skills development programmes like Cyberwise, which helps young people build computer skills and business and entrepreneurship training where young people are assisted in starting their small businesses. The skills development programme has had a positive impact, and such success stories can also be shared with the Committee upon request. 

Further questions
The Chairperson asked if Provinces have offered assistance to LoveLife and if they have received aid. She cautioned about little information provided about the assistance given to struggling sports clubs in rural areas.  

Mr Mhlongo was not satisfied by LoveLife reporting only to the Department. The Committee also needed to be made aware of its performance and if its objectives were met. He asked how LoveLife allocates its funding for the different programmes.

He asked LoveLife to provide the physical addresses of those offices. He cautioned LoveLife about the unclear information on their relationship with SASCOC. How was LoveLife able to measure its outcomes? There seemed to be a duplication of programmes, and the concern about no MoU with DBE persists. 

Mr Madlingozi was not satisfied with LoveLife's marketing strategy in driving the message about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Non-communicable diseases remain unpopular amongst the Youth. Are there measures in place to drive this issue? Does LoveLife offer any psychosocial support, and how is the information distributed on their platforms? The safety of children in schools is a primary concern, and information on school coaches needs to be made available to the Committee. The organisation needs to improve its programmes to enable children to wear safe and appropriate clothing for sports activities.

Mr Seabi reiterated the lack of community access to LoveLife's resources, information, and assistance. Does LoveLife have a process for appointing its board of trustees? The question about the need for impact assessment to determine effectiveness of the programmes has not been answered.

The Chairperson asked LoveLife to provide the data to the Committee on what programmes they were implementing in which communities. As constituency leaders, they were concerned about their communities. 

LoveLife response
Ms Nkomo replied that reports on activities, budgets, and portfolios are compiled monthly and quarterly and submitted to the Department. The information will be made available to the Committee. LoveLife has no control over what people choose to do with the information they provide. The irresponsible behaviour caused by alcohol abuse is a matter that is out of their capabilities. 

LoveLife prioritizes young people's mental health; Hence, psychosocial support is provided through their contact centre for no cost. People can contact them by sending a 'please call me' and their counsellors, psychologists, and social workers will contact them. LoveLife also provides referrals to clinics if there is a need for them to receive biomedical intervention.

It is unclear if the images depicting young children wearing non-sports clothing were taken after the day's programmes were concluded or before. However, such images are used as evidence when LoveLife compiles its reports.

The information about the location of their offices nationwide will be made available to the Committee. When appointing new board members, LoveLife make a call for people to apply by sending their CV or a colleague may refer them. Once those CVs are submitted, they will be scrutinized to find the best fitting candidate for the different sub-committee portfolios, and the remuneration committee will make the appointments official.

LoveLife is present in rural areas through its groundBreakers and other volunteers. The number of groundBreakers determines the programme's reach. LoveLife is constantly reviewing itself to identify areas of improvement, and a comprehensive impact assessment may be available once it has implemented its 2017-2021 strategic period. Through external funders, it plans to work with researchers to create and implement impactful and more relevant programmes for young people.

Ms Traore replied that groundBreakers start recreational leagues in various communities, and these will be unique because of the diverse backgrounds and needs of the different communities. Coordinators are tasked with other sports structures in various areas to assist in developing community club programmes. 

The Chairperson commented on the unsatisfactory manner in which questions were answered and asked LoveLife to respond in writing to the questions about visibility in rural areas and if provincial representatives of LoveLife are going to work with the provincial government to address the geographical gaps. She advised that it have all the necessary information available in the future when invited to the Committee. 

Ms Sumayya Khan, DSAC Deputy Director General: Recreation and Sports Development, mentioned that LoveLife is always part of the Department's organising committees. They are also involved in running the Department's programmes. The organisation provides extra support in school sports programmes and educating young people about health-related matters.

LoveLife submitted their business plan, which highlights the schools they work with within different communities. Performance reports are always presented to the Department and highlight improved areas in school sports programmes. The inability of DSAC to fund all schools determines which schools they can reach out to through their activities and programmes. 

Mr Vusimuzi Mkhize, DSAC Director General, appreciated the questions asked by the Committee and promised that the Department would review them and work on those areas needing improvement. On the duplication concern, the Department will closely analyse the tabled LoveLife business plan to ensure there is no future duplication of programmes and activities. 

The Department has met with LoveLife to discuss budget challenges, especially how to move away from heavy administrative spending of 55%, reduce that ratio, and ensure that programmes receive more budget.

LoveLife has been affected by government budget cuts which have affected their operations. The Department has the information about the coaches in schools sports programmes and will make it available to the Committee. The Department provides regular checks on LoveLife's performance and closely monitors their impact in communities. 

The Chairperson thanked the Department and LoveLife and said it is always beneficial to this Committee to interact with LoveLife and urged them to keep up the excellent work.

The meeting was adjourned.

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