At Community Keepers we welcome the ‘disruptive child’; the ‘difficult teenager’; the learner who is withdrawn, anxious or angry; and those who appear to cope but are masking, to keep the peace.  These are the learners who need us most.

Nobody should be denied access to mental health care because she or he is poor or lives in a remote place.

Our dream is to partner with funders and as many communities as possible, to build a culture of well-being.  Innovation and impact go hand in hand, and we continually research, develop and implement new services with the aim of reaching more people and having a greater impact.  We are committed to the National Development Plan and the 2030 Agenda as we heed the call of the United Nations to “leave no one behind” and to “endeavor to reach the furthest first.”

Our shared vision is to improve the social and emotional well-being of learners and promote supportive communities where learning and development can prosper.

Even the biggest challenges seem smaller when we take a step closer, roll up our sleeves and take action. By investing in the social and emotional well-being of learners, Community Keepers create supportive school communities where learning and development can prosper. We establish ourselves at schools where we deliver professional services to learners, educators and parents or caregivers. We build long-term relationships and help individuals, their families and communities.

PARTNERSHIP: Collaborating with others towards a common goal.
TRUST: Being reliable in everything we do.
INTEGRITY: Exercising moral courage by accepting responsibility for all our actions.
PROFESSIONALISM: Utilising our skills to deliver a high-quality service

Our Board of Directors (“the Board”) meets quarterly to maintain close oversight over the activities of the organisation and annually to discuss strategy. Formal minutes are recorded and circulated before each meeting.

The management team consists of the CEO, five Area Managers who report into the Operations Manager and Development Manager.

The board approves the annual budget and provides the necessary authority for expenditure.  Expenditure outside of the approved budget must be approved by the board. No single individual exercises unfettered powers of decision-making.  The management team has clear mandates and carry out their duties within the guidance of a clear strategy and plan. The board holds the CEO to account and ensures that management complies with all legislation, regulation and policies. The governance structures strive to achieve transparency, accountability, integrity and ethical leadership and provide practical guidance regarding sustainable development of the activities of the company.

Theory of Change


The communities where Community Keepers serve, are known to have some of the highest incidences of violent crimes, abuse and neglect – witnessing this, or experiencing it personally, leads to severe and prolonged trauma.  Resolving the trauma through formal, professional school-based therapeutic support and developmental services, results in a general increase in mental well-being and has a positive effect on a learner’s ability to effectively learn.

In the long term, good mental health becomes a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

Community Keepers offers individual therapy to learners from marginalised communities in South Africa.  When children enroll for individual therapy (or are referred by educators or parents), an indicator of their fragility as human beings is the level of hopelessness expressed initially.

Through a process of professional guidance and a solutions based approach, clients are capacitated to manage the stresses of their environment and are neurologically enabled to access their higher brain functions where the capacity for learning is seated as opposed to functioning from within the primitive part of their brains which would handle life with the instinctive non-rational responses of fight, flight or freeze.

Handling trauma effectively is a pre-requisite to effectively learning, making education outcomes more productive. Having better education outcomes, in turn, leads to better future prospects, ultimately resulting in a client’s increased ability to make a productive contribution to his or her community.

Our Impact


“Breaking the cycle of trauma is critical for the well-being of family and children, and has a relevance to social justice, because trauma  diminishes life opportunities  across generations and hinders social mobility.”

In 2019, 72% (67% IN 2018) OF LEARNERS
interviewed after therapy experienced a positive improvement in the problems they initially presented with and their general functioning

In 2019, 94% (90% in 2018) OF LEARNERS
of learners who made use of the Community Keepers service indicated that they would recommend Community Keepers to someone else

In 2019, 79.75% (77% IN 2018 ) OF EDUCATORS
polled indicated observing an immediate positive behavioural and attitudinal change in learners after being seen by Community Keepers

A therapeutic intervention lasts for an average of 6 weekly sessions of 45 minutes, but can extend to a year or longer in some cases.

These figures reflect the impact of our work in 2019 and the cumulative impact since Community Keepers launched in 2008.

Community Keepers has been at the forefront of providing an essential service to proactively and reactively support, counsel and empower vulnerable children and youth at risk, in a holistic manner which includes their caregivers (parents, guardians and educators).  Our child friendly consulting rooms are based on-site, at schools, removing barriers to access, providing a safe space and building trust relationships with our practitioners. The therapy that these children and their caregivers receive, at no charge, is the same quality of therapy that they would receive from a private practice.

Our proven track record over the past 11 years speaks for itself and the waiting list of schools requesting interventions speaks to the desperate need as well as the confidence in our service.  We believe that mental health is vital and we work to improve the social and emotional well-being of learners while creating a culture of well-being and supportive school communities where learning and development can prosper. Community Keepers fulfils this mission with our specialised multidisciplinary team of 50 professional practitioners (psychologists, social workers and registered counsellors) at 28 schools across the greater Cape Town and Winelands area.

At Community Keepers, we:

  • Support learners and educators with psycho-social concerns by providing a therapeutic support service.
  • Develop learners’ social and personal skills to deal with everyday life and make positive life choices.
  • Equip parents, guardians and educators with the knowledge and skills to fulfil their responsibilities to learners.

Our History


“11 years ago, I was deeply concerned when I discovered that there was only one state social worker and one psychologist to service 45 schools and 32 000 children in the Winelands. Today, Community Keepers has 50 practitioners who service 26 schools and we have touched the lives of over 100 000 people.   We owe a debt of gratitude to our funders who believe in the work that we do and step up to show these vulnerable children that someone does care and someone is willing to share, so that they can have hope and a future.” Andre du Plessis, Chairman and founder

 

In 2007, the year before Community Keepers opened our first consulting rooms, a research project was undertaken by three founding members that entailed interviewing over 2 000 candidates (children, youth, parents and educators) from schools in the greater Stellenbosch area.  The intention was to listen to the challenges they faced and the need they had in their communities. A common denominator that we found across all ages was that the candidates ‘needed someone to talk to’. This was particularly evident among the youth, who expressed a need to discuss issues with someone other than their friends and parents.

Community Keepers is unique in that we offer schools full time, dedicated mental health professionals at no charge.

Follow this link to read an article in CFO South Africa Magazine: “How Capitec’s André du Plessis helps safeguard the future of children in Cape Town”