Vital Health Foods and the South African Breweries (SAB) are at the forefront in a nationwide initiative to change attitudes and behaviour patterns which lead to the sickening and consistent reports of abuse against women and children.

The Vital Foundation, an initiative by Vital Health Foods, was launched in August 2013. The mission of the Vital Foundation is to support, fund and profile organisations who offer services and take action against woman and child abuse. They raise funds through their ‘R1 makes a difference’ campaign, during which Vital Health Foods donates R1 from the pack of every supplement sold, to the foundation.

The campaign empowers the average consumer to help make a difference in the lives of the women and children who are abused in our country. Since the launch of the campaign, Vital Health Foods has raised R3,8 million towards the work of the Vital Foundation.

George Grieve, Managing Director of Vital Health Foods says, “The Vital Foundation wants to help build healthy families and healthy homes. We cannot stand back anymore and watch the statistics pile up – we have to become active corporate citizens. Our Foundation will be funding organisations already doing sterling work in addressing the scourge of woman and child abuse as well as lay the basis for changing the behaviour of South Africans to have a positive impact on our families.”

The Vital Foundation’s activities rest on the bedrock of the imperative of achieving behaviour change at many levels to address this issue in an integrated, holistic way. “The absolute imperative is we have to change the underlying social attitudes, which are partly rooted in our incredibly-disturbed past and the way that South African men over the centuries have been socialised into forms of masculinity that are predicated on the idea of being strong and tough and the use of force to assert dominance and control over women, as well as other men,” said Professor Rachel Jewkes, Director of the Gender & Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council, and Specialist Advisor to the Vital Foundation.

The South African Breweries (SAB) has reintroduced its successful Tavern Intervention Programme for Men (TIP) which, through a series of workshops in taverns across South Africa, aims to drive attitudinal and behavioural change in men identified as perpetrators of social ills, including crime.

TIP is a partnership between SAB and a local NGO, Men for Development in South Africa (MEDSA) – a Vital Foundation initiative – and seeks to provide men with appropriate skills and knowledge to effectively help combat crimes closely linked to alcohol abuse. It is one of the few programmes of its kind in existence in South Africa.

SAB partners with a number of community based organisations and leaders to help identify those men who require intervention, as well as those who wish to become agents of change within their communities.

Each workshop, targeting 60 men, is held in a local tavern over a period of five days, and encourages active engagement by participants on several social issues. It seeks to promote responsible alcohol consumption; reduce the impact of HIV and Aids; promote human rights, and in particular children’s rights; minimise gender based violence and contribute to a reduction in crime.

Participants are rewarded with a certificate of participation and encouraged to sign a pledge of commitment to be ambassadors of change and champions within their community.

A Men’s Support Group (MSG) continues to meet on a monthly basis, where they consolidate what they have learned, and are able to discuss and share problems or be referred to an expert organisation, such as SANCA, FAMSA, or social workers for further intervention. Behavioural changes in the men are tracked through the support groups.

“SAB understands the responsibility that comes from being a leading corporate citizen, and is constantly striving to be a force for good within society. It is for this reason that we have long taken a leadership role in promoting the health and well-being of the communities in which we operate.

“Through the TIP, SAB wants to be part of the solution by not only addressing the symptoms of the problem but by targeting its source. Empowering these men with the necessary information to become ambassadors of change will mean a better life for their families and entire communities,” says Mpho Sadiki, SAB Head Sustainability and Transformation.

SAB is targeting at least 360 new intakes aged 18 and above in various parts of the country between mid-September and early 2015.

 

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