Category: EAP

GRDM employees start 2020 on a healthy note

On Friday, 17 January 2020, the Western Cape Department of Health and Virgin Active visited the Garden Route District Municipality Head Office to share various health-related information with management and employees to kick the year off on a healthy note.

Officials during the information session conducted by representatives from Virgin Active.

Early in the morning, representatives from Virgin Active presented the following topics to the staff included: How to find time for your health, exercise guidelines, nutrition and how to improve your eating habits, as well as benefits of exercise for your well-being. Soon after, health-screening tests followed, which staff who were present could fully utilise. Tests included: weight & measurements, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, voluntary HIV tests and pap-smears.

To conclude the activities of the morning, Virgin Active continued by facilitating a 30 minute Zumba session of which more than 50 staff members participated in. The session left employees with soaking-wet faces and soggy clothes, while feeling revitalized and motivated. To conclude the activities of the day, various prizes were awarded, fruits and health beverages handed out. The event was successfully organised by the District’s Wellness Section’s Employee Assistance Practitioner, Ms Shandré Abrahams.

GRDM employees commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month in pink “and green”

Officials from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) on Friday, 18 October 2019, showed their support towards Breast Cancer Awareness Month, by wearing a pink ribbon and/or a pink t-shirt on the day.

Breast cancer is known as one of the most common cancers among South African women and the initiative is commemorated annually during the month of October, to create awareness about the illness.

On their arrival at the office in the morning, each employee was welcomed with a breast cancer awareness pamphlet, a packet of sweet treats and the pink ribbon. Later the morning, Breast Cancer information sessions were conducted by the representatives from the Department of Health, where after staff members used the opportunity to either consult with the health professionals or underwent clinical breast examinations and were taught how to do breast self examinations. This does not only apply to females, but also men. Although male breast cancer is rare, the Breast Health Foundation recorded that in South Africa, 1-3% of all breast cancers happen in men.

Signs of the illness may include: swelling of all or part of the breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast pain, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness, “scaliness” or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, a nipple discharge other than breast milk, and a lump in the underarm area.

However, with all these signs evident, early detection of this cancer can result in the effective treatment of the disease. The following advice are also provided to patients or all women around the world, to change their lifestyles, follow a healthy diet, do regular exercise, stop smoking, if using alcohol, lessen the use thereof.  Women are also advised to have their children before the age of 30 and to breastfeed their babies.

According to Ms Shandré Abrahams, Employee Wellness Practitioner of GRDM, a total of sixty-two officials participated in the day’s programme to either attend the session for breast cancer-related consultation and/or inspections, blood pressure screening, screening of sugar levels and HIV tests.

Ms Abrahams extended a word of gratitude to all health practitioners including: Ms Patience Shipalone (awarded “Best Caring Nurse” at the Western Cape Department of Health), Jacoleen Fred and Katrina Elbrecht (Department of Health), Ms Leachia Lee (George Municipality), Ms Julia Maki (FAMSA) and Ms Charlene Herniel (Registered Nurse) who dedicated their time and effort to assist with the awareness programme.

Garden Route District Municipality and stakeholders celebrate Mandela Day

As the Mandela Day celebrations are still in progress throughout the world today, 18 July 2019, the respective departments of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) used their 67 minutes to celebrate the life of former and the late President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, throughout the entire Garden Route district.  The aim of this year’s initiatives was to put smiles on the faces of the most vulnerable, but more importantly – the faces of youngsters affected by tough living conditions.  Here are some of the special moments captured during these events today:

George Herald annual Sandwich Jam

The first initiative of the day started with the GRDM Mayoral Committee members and officials who participated in the eighth annual Sandwich Jam of the local media house, George Herald. For this year’s initiative, George Herald’s goal was to prepare 10 000 sandwiches in 67 minutes, however to their surprise, they reached their target in 53 minutes! During the event, all participants prepared sandwiches for identified areas and members of the community.  The event took place at the George Herald premises in Ring Road, George. “We hope that the beneficiaries who include: St Paul’s Primary School, Life Community Services, ACVV, Conville Clinic, George Hospital, Child Welfare, Badisa, Eden Lions, Seven Passes Initiative, Touwsranten, George Night Shelter, New Dawn Park Primary School, Pacaltsdorp Clinic and Mzoxolo Primary School enjoyed the sandwiches, prepared straight from our hearts,” Ms Shandré Abrahams, GRDM Wellness Officer said.

Ethembeni Day Care Centre for Disabled Children

Still, in George, the GRDM officials from the Human Resources Section visited a non-governmental organisation, Ethembeni Day Care Centre for Disabled Children, in Thembalethu.  Each official within the Section contributed funds and donated toiletries, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, facecloths and soap, as well as a snack bag for each child at the Centre. Leaving each child with a smile and a happy heart was purely what the team intended to achieve. A total of 17 children benefited from this initiative.

Karmenaadjie Crèche in Oudtshoorn

The GRDM Municipal Health Section in Oudtshoorn visited the Karmenaadjie Crèche in Buffelsdrift. On their arrival, they provided soup and bread rolls to each toddler.  Approximately 51 children and educators enjoyed the warm, tasty soup and bread rolls that were prepared specifically for them.  In closing the visit, the principal of the Crèche expressed her sincere appreciation towards the GRDM team for the gesture, but most of all for caring for the children and their educators, as well as the community. Members of the Buffelsdrift community and the educators also welcomed the initiative.

More initiatives to follow

More activities in celebration of Mandela Day are envisaged to take place, such as a collaborative school visit by the GRDM Municipal Health teams of Knysna and George to the Lancewood Primary School in Woodville is also expected to take place on Friday, 19 July 2019 and a visit to a school in Calitzdorp by the Disaster Management and Fire Services officials.

While all activities are coming to a close, us as residents of the Garden Route should always strive towards changing the living conditions of the community for the better by how we think, act and respond. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Wellness day for Garden Route District and George Municipalities

Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Employee Assistant Practitioner, Ms Shandré Abrahams, in collaboration with George Municipality’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) section hosted a joint Wellness event earlier today at the George Civic Centre.  GRDM’s EAP section partners with George and Oudtshoorn municipalities on an annual basis to provide such a platform where employees in from their northern and southern offices can engage with professionals in the field of finances, health, social well-being and emotional advice. Joint sessions like these also provide a substantial cost-saving for all those involved.

During today’s event, the official welcoming was done by Cllr Raybin Figland, a Councillor who serves on both the Garden Route District and George Municipal Councils. During his address, he said: “We understand that in life it is not always as simple as we think to share one’s vulnerabilities, many might feel embarrassed. We must, however, put our trust in EAP officers as they have to keep all information confidential.”

Comments from GRDM employees at the session:
“I am here today to check my health – it is a time that our employer gives us to check our fitness, wellness, medical aids, pension funds and insurance. I work out of town most of the time so this platform provides a perfect opportunity for me to check up on all these matters” – Mr Patrick Masongo.

“Ek is vandag hier om uit te vind of oor gesondheid en ek beoog om vrae te vra aan die verskillende organisasies wie hier is vandag.” – Ms Gail Bekeer.

“I am here to find out more details from the banks about investment opportunities, our provident fund and women’s health issues” – Nocwaka Ndabeni.

This session catered for countless employees from both municipalities, who engaged with the following stakeholders: Absa, Nedbank, Capitec, Standard Bank, Old Mutual, Medical Aids (Bonitas, SAMWUMED, HOSMED, LA Health), Aloe Vera, Assupol Life, Metropolitan Financial Solutions, AVBOB, Sanlam, Herbalife, Liberty Life, HRMA ministries, Law for All, Cook for Life, Western Cape Department of Health, ASSEPOL, Virgin Active, Wellness World Gym, South African Narcotics Association and the Cancer Association of South Africa.


Editor’s note: The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is designed to assist the identification and resolution of problems associated with employees impaired by personal concerns, but not limited to health, family, financial, alcohol, drug, legal, emotional, stress or other personal concerns and addictions which may adversely affect employee’s performance.

Garden Route District Municipality's CANSA Relay for Life supporters

Garden Route DM attends ‘CANSA Relay for Life’ and donates R15 100 to the cause

For the fourth year in a row, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has participated in the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) Relay for Life. Employees from various GRDM Departments worked together to sell sausage rolls, cool drinks, water, pancakes and one employee even set up a photo booth to raise funds for the cause.

The municipality’s comprehension of the importance of corporate social responsibility and compassion for others remain the driving force behind why the municipality attends community-focused events. The employee coordinating the municipality’s CANSA Relay for Life attendance and activities, Human Resources Practitioner Employee Assistance Programme of GRDM, Shandré Abrahams said “We are incredibly thankful for our colleagues volunteering their time, effort and financial resources to take part in this initiative and showing their whole-hearted support towards the CANSA Relay for Life.

Megan Cunningham, Task Administrator said Cancer is an illness that affects many of our relatives and friends, and by supporting this initiative we ensure the continued support to all cancer patients that are assisted by CANSA.” Megan also set up a photo booth at the event to raise funds.

Services rendered and goods sold on the day amounted to a profit of R5 100, which has been paid to CANSA. GRDM Speaker, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies also donated R10 000 from her budget to CANSA.

Speaker Bouw-Spies also committed to continue supporting the ‘Relay for Life’. During her message of support to participants at the event, she explained that although she in attendance on behalf of the District, she was also attending it in her personal capacity. Cllr Bouw-Spies lost a cousin to cancer in 2018 and this year one of her best friends is fighting the battle with cancer.

During her address, she pleaded to the CANSA supporters to support those affected by the illness in any way possible, be it “physically, emotionally or financially.”

“To those who have decided to isolate themselves after being diagnosed with cancer – it cannot be that this approach of dealing with the illness is the best thing to do. We must support those who are going through such a traumatising time – at all costs,” she said. 

In conclusion, Cllr Bouw-Spies shared the following: “For me, this event is symbolic to pushing through the darkness and throughout the toughest hours, reaching out a helping hand, supporting one another, until the darkness turns into light.”

A video of Speaker Eleanore Bouw-Spies during her message of support can be viewed by clicking here:


Garden Route Distriksmunisipaliteit het vanjaar vir ‘n vierde keer aan die ‘KANSA Relay for Life’ deelgeneem. Die munisipaliteit het R5 100 ingesamel tydens die program, wat die groottotaal van fondse bedoel vir kankernavorsing bring tot op R15 100. GRDM amptenare het worsrolletjies, koeldranke en water tydens die program verkoop. Een amptenaar het ‘n foto-hoekie opgestel wat gehelp het met addisionele fondsinsameling.

Speaker van GRDM, Raadslid Eleanore Bouw-Spies, het die program bygewoon en ‘n boodskap van ondersteuning oorgedra aan deelnemers en gaste.   Rdl. Bouw-Spies het verlede jaar ‘n familielid verloor aan kanker, en tans veg een van haar beste vriendinne die stryd teen kanker. Sy het ‘n pleidooi gelewer dat familie en vriende kankerleiers finansieel, emosioneel of fisies moet ondersteun en dat daar nie toegelaat moet word dat enige kankerleier in isolasie moet verkeer nie. Vriende en familie moet kankerleiers tydens elke stap van die stryd ondersteun.

The group of Garden Route District Municipality employees who took part in the CANSA Relay for Life in George.
Megan Cunningham (GRDM TASK Administrator) takes a photo of the Bouw-Spies family, fLTR: Cllr Rowan Spies (Garden Route DM Portfolio Chairperson, Roads Services), Elrin Bouw-Spies, Lendell Bouw-Spies and Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies (Garden Route DM Speaker and Knysna Ward 5 Councillor).
Nocwaka Ndabeni, GRDM Disaster Management Intern, is to thank for the sales of sausage rolls and drinks because of her carnival dance moves and sales pitches to participants at the event.
: Lizelle Uithaler (Personal Assistant to the Deputy Executive Mayor of GRDM), Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies (GRDM Speaker), Ayvah Saayman, Ilse Saayman (GRDM Manager: Performance Management) and Elrin Bouw-Spies.


Let’s talk about Mental Health

The month of October brings to the fore a much-thought about topic, but not much of a talked-about topic – mental health. During October, the objective of not only educating the public about mental health is important, but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that a person with a temporary or chronic mental illness is often subjected to.


These also include disorders related to alcohol and drug abuse.

Like physical disorders mental and brain disorders vary in severity. There are those that are:

– Transient (like an acute stress disorder)
– Periodic (like bipolar disorder, characterised by periods of exaggerated elation followed by periods of depression)
– Long lasting and progressive (like Alzheimer’s disease)
– Other conditions include:
• Schizophrenia
• Dementia,
• Depressive disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Panic disorder
• Post-traumatic stress disorder

So, when we talk about health, we can’t just focus on heart health, or liver health, or brain health – what about “whole health”. You have to see the whole person and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together.

A 23-minute interview with Oprah shows that people from all walks of life can experience something that many of us might think only affect a certain race, age, social or economic profile.