Stories Of Impact
The REDAS Solidarity Project Fund: Caring for migrant workers affected by COVID-19
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

The REDAS Solidarity Project Fund: Caring for migrant workers affected by COVID-19

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Among the vulnerable communities in Singapore impacted by COVID-19, it is the community of migrant workers who have toiled invisibly to help build our nation that has been very heavily affected. Infection amongst their community has been widespread, and a large number of them are confined to their dormitories, unable to leave.

It is thus very encouraging that the Singapore government and many other organisations have stepped up to give assistance and support to them in their isolation.

To help ease their plight, the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS) announced on 30th April the launch of the REDAS Solidarity Project Fund. Its aim is to provide aid and relief to the segments of the community most affected by COVID-19, particularly in the built environment sector where many migrant workers are employed.

So far, more than 50 REDAS members have contributed $760,000 to the Fund, which was also launched to show appreciation for Singapore’s healthcare workers.

Through collaboration with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and other partners such as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), REDAS was able to promptly roll out the initiative to demonstrate our community’s stand for Singapore’s migrant workers.

“Our migrant workers are the cornerstone of society and it is important to recognise their valuable contributions,’’ says Deputy CEO of CFS Joyce Teo. “CFS fully supports such efforts to ensure that they receive the best possible assistance during their time of need. ’’

To mark the start of their giving, REDAS distributed 200,000 care packs to as many workers in factory-converted dormitories through the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC). These care packs will include toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, a shaver and a bar of soap. In addition, 800 standing fans will also be donated to dormitories to help improve ventilation for the workers.

“Given the large number of migrant workers under quarantine in dormitories, there is great urgency for us to meet their essential needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” says REDAS President Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. “We hope this collective effort to spread a little kindness to the migrant workers will provide the much needed emotional support to help them ride out this difficult period.”

The May Day Gift event to distribute the care packs was graced by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng, and joined by URA Chief Executive Lim Mr Eng Hwee, REDAS President Mr Chia Ngiang Hong and MWC Chairman Mr Yeo Guat Kwang.

“We are very happy to have REDAS partner with us to support our migrant workers in the factory-converted dormitories,’ says MWC Chairman Yeo Guat Kwang. “We are really very thankful to everyone for giving a helping hand to our migrant workers in this challenging time.”

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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News

Cellist wins Goh Soon Tioe Award

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2015 winner, cellist Theophilus Tan

Theophilus Tan is the first cellist to clinch the Centenary Award since it was established in 2011. Cellist Theophilus Tan started piano lessons at the age of seven but was never very enthusiastic about classical music. But through a combination of emotional support from his secondary school teacher mother, strict discipline from his pastor father and from listening to his father’s collection of CDs by Russian violinist Jascha Heifetz, he fell in love with classical music. Read more.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Opinion

Creating social impact through philanthropy

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scenery of gardens by the bay

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely changed your life on a daily basis. Though the pandemic has affected everyone, it hasn’t done so equally – the situations of the most vulnerable groups have been severely aggravated and awareness of our society’s fault lines and underserved needs have been heightened. But, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the tremendous power of common people working together to achieve a unified goal.  

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Opinion

How to tackle homelessness in Singapore? Try some empathy for a start

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John Doe
A man sleeping on a bench in a subway station.

By Joyce Teo

Early last year, when a call for volunteers came for the first nationwide street count of the homeless in Singapore, I was probably one of the fastest to sign up.

As a grant-maker at the Community Foundation of Singapore, I often receive requests to fund research on social issues leading to the presentation of academic papers or journals. I find it hard to translate these into practical application towards solving critical social problems.

So I became a volunteer, partly to find out more on the state of homelessness in Singapore and partly, to figure out if philanthropy can play a role in making sense of research that enables us to do good in practice.

The study opened my eyes to a different side of Singapore. It drove home the point that the facts and statistics we read about the homeless from time to time are not mere digits but fellow persons in our shared space and humanity.

For the study, I had to cover downtown Singapore, thinking it would be an easy job as it did not seem that there would be many sleeping around buildings and shopping malls with security cameras.

But what was supposed to be a two-hour walk one night turned to five, due to the sheer number of people sleeping on the streets.

I could not keep up with having to type the individual description as required in the study and had to resort to grouping them in order to complete the area in time.

As indicated in the study, downtown Singapore is a hot zone with over 100 people found sleeping there.

Many were in work uniforms. In fact, they slept within close proximity to each other as if there’s safety in numbers.

These were the ones with the least comfort, usually with just a cap or towel covering their eyes.

Some, who are cleaners, even slept with their cleaning carts right in front of them as a guard for privacy.

The sheer number of people I found and the fact that most of them looked to be Singaporeans were a huge shock to me.

I wondered what led so many of them to sleep in the open instead of going home after work.

What is the impact of this on their health and mental well-being? Do they get to see their families and loved ones?

The results of the survey provide a clearer and better understanding of the definition of being homeless. It is more than home ownership, as some of the interviewees do own residential properties.

The results also provide some insights into the causes of homelessness here – unemployment, irregular work, low income and family relationship problems.

This is a good start. But more needs to be done.

The fact that half of those surveyed have been on the street for about five years shows that homelessness is a chronic and systemic issue that affect not only the 1,050 homeless people the study found, but also their families.

Homelessness today is no longer about begging or being a public nuisance. Many homeless people do have means of subsistence, however fragile.

Taking an enforcement approach towards homelessness will not address the deeper issues related to employment, income levels or family ties.

The homeless have a very real fear of the Destitute Persons Act and how it has been enforced.

They sleep in fear of losing their freedom. Under the Act, homeless people may be admitted into welfare homes as a last resort.

The Act defines a destitute person as one who is creating a nuisance due to begging, or who is found in a public place without means of subsistence or place of residence.

In practice, homeless people are usually persuaded to admit themselves voluntarily into the homes. But once admitted, they may not legally leave without permission.

This palpable fear can be clearly seen in one of the interviews I conducted with a homeless man.

Throughout the interview, he kept glancing around warily, as if someone would come and take him away despite my repeated assurance that I was a volunteer doing some research.

Once the interview ended, he immediately left and I felt quite regretful having robbed his sleeping place although I managed to score a data point for the research.

As part of the study questionnaire, we offered the homeless an opportunity for social workers to contact them for assistance if they are open to it. Perhaps not surprisingly, hardly anyone agreed, as they thought they would risk losing their ‘’freedom’’ if they did so.

Instead, the question most often asked when I approached them for requests to interview was – ‘Are you hock-lee-por eh lang?’ (Hokkien for social welfare department) and they would try to move away while asking.

How philanthropy can help

I hope that philanthropists can fund initiatives that help to change public perception of homelessness as well as more in-depth research that enables deeper understanding of the homeless issue.

The research could take an ethnographic approach similar to that taken by sociologist Teo You Yenn in her book “This is what inequality looks like’’.

In the book, she gave numerous case studies that demonstrated the different facets of inequality and poverty in a way that we can relate to. She also suggested that readers ask questions about poverty and how to overcome it in different ways, and to see themselves as part of the problems and potential solutions.

We need to better understand the different profiles of the homeless people, so as to appreciate their problems better and find different solutions for the different groups – those with employment, those without a home, those with broken family ties, and those who are senior and frail. We need to hear the voice of the rough sleepers themselves and co-create solutions with them. Not for them.

The homelessness issue in Singapore is complex and requires each of us to play our part if we want to resolve it.

For example, if you are a resident of a neighbourhood with a rough sleeper who is not a nuisance, you may want to think twice about calling the police. Instead, you could consider making an effort to speak to the person.

Empathy, rather than mere enforcement, is a good start to help identify root causes and solutions to the issue.

About the author

Joyce Teo is the Deputy CEO and Head of Philanthropy and Grants at the Community Foundation of Singapore, a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore.

Source: TODAY

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Opinion

Pragmatic reasons to engage In philanthropy

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John Doe
Elderly man lying on grass with sign.

Educator George Jacobs became involved in philanthropy because he wanted to put his money where his mouth is. As someone who feels strongly about contributing to greater food security in Singapore, the passionate advocate for a vegan lifestyle established the Relaxed Fund to promote horticulture in the little red dot.

“My wife and I wanted to encourage people to eat more plant-based foods, as these foods boost human health and address global warming issues. One way to convince people to change their diets is to immerse them in growing greens themselves, so they feel a sense of ownership. Thus, they want the greens to find a good home — in their stomachs,” he says.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Singapore, which enables philanthropy by matching donors’ interests with causes, the Relaxed Fund has thus far spearheaded the launch of three edible community gardens. Jacobs regards these gardens as a tangible step towards increasing the country’s self-reliance on food, saying, “The government has a 30 by 30 goal, for Singapore to produce 30 per cent of our food needs by 2030. Everyone needs to help if we are to reach this goal and home and community gardening is one method of achieving the target.”

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, international support is on a gradual decline, which means an “Asia for Asia” centric philanthropy has to fill the gap, the Doing Good Index, the latest study by CAPS indicates. “There is now a unique opportunity to use this newly created wealth to alleviate poverty, protect the environment and promote societal resilience,” Dr Shapiro adds.

The advantage of philanthropy in its various forms is that it enables donors to steer the impact they hope to achieve in their field of interest. “Many donors who come to us already have a passion for a particular cause,” explains Catherine Loh, chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). To date, its donors have given about $70 million to over 400 non-profit organisations in the areas of education, health, social and welfare, arts, culture, environment and more. “While charity is a natural, emotional impulse to an immediate situation and giving usually occurs in the short-term, philanthropy addresses the root cause of social issues and requires a more strategic, long-term approach.”

She cites former president SR Nathan, who established an education endowment fund with CFS after he stepped down as president, spurred by his personal experiences of overcoming hardships. The endowment fund has since helped many beneficiaries graduate with diplomas and degrees, hence securing a better future for these individuals and their families, an outcome that was close to his heart.

There are also business imperatives that spur some to engage in philanthropy. For starters, Singapore has the highest tax subsidy for charitable giving in the world at a rate of 250 percent for individuals and companies, which offers a strong incentive to give.

It also bodes well that many companies do care about the communities in which they operate, observes Dr Ruth Shapiro of CAPS — and philanthropy gives them an avenue to engage with these local communities in various ways. Funding social delivery organisations is one straightforward way of doing so. According to the Doing Good Index, the average social organisation in Singapore only receives 16 percent of their budget from companies, indicating there is potential for further monetary contributions.

“Businesses can encourage their employees to volunteer and sit on boards of non-profit organisations and social enterprises,” Dr Shapiro adds. She notes that in Singapore, only 55 percent of non-profit board members have corporate experience, hence encouraging volunteering in this form would allow important skills and business rigor to transfer to the social sector. Taking on such roles may also provide individuals with an additional opportunity to develop leadership skills that can benefit the business in turn.

Philanthropy via the establishment of a foundation dedicated to a specific cause can also be instrumental in uniting successors of a business or a family with shared purposes. “This is one way to pass on one’s interests and values and an opportunity to make an impact now in their lifetime and beyond,” says Loh.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the oft uttered trope that by doing good, one feels good too might be the most powerful motivating factor. This concept, which is advocated by French neuroscientist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, has been proven in many studies that show people who give are significantly happier than those who spend only on themselves.

Jacobs of the Relaxed Fund could not agree more. He says, “My wife and I have already lived for over sixty comfortable years. Taking a little time from our schedules instead of watching Netflix and spending a little of the funds we have accumulated, instead of using them for some products we do not need, is a sweet feeling.”

Source: a.com

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

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