Teresa Jones

Member of Executive Board, SA CAN

Teresa Jones, member of the South Africa Community Action Network (SA CAN) executive board, believes she is among the fortunate few who can honestly say they love their work.

“How many people wake up and can’t wait to get to work?” she says. Now 28, Jones has been involved in the work of CAN for the past eight years, and oversees the Estcourt, Ladysmith, Dundee and Newcastle clusters.

She has also been instrumental in the organisation’s national rollout plan, working alongside her husband Brian Jones.

She explains that CAN was born 11 years ago, when Brian’s police reservist colleague Craig Ayliffe was killed while responding to an emergency.

The organisation serves as a hub for emergency calls and assistance for its members, with work ranging from emergency response to helping co-ordinate searches for missing people. Its innovations include a “please call me” option that CAN will respond to in case members have run out of airtime, but require emergency assistance.

“When you put CAN on speed dial, we call it the AAA button – for anytime, anything, anywhere.”

It is demanding work. “You have to force yourself to take time off. You become so involved in helping other people all hours of the day and night that it can become emotionally draining – especially if it doesn’t end well,” she says.

Jones says while CAN is not a silver bullet to end crime, she finds it “incredibly rewarding” that the work she does makes a visible difference in the lives of its subscribers.

Working with a network of police and emergency workers, CAN assists in co-ordinating the necessary operations in case of emergency. She believes the entire team is completely dedicated to the cause.

“If we could wave a wand and change South Africa, we would. But it would take a lot more collaboration and a lot more organisations such as ours to end crime completely,”
she says. — Tracy Burrows