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Homeless during the pandemic: how our Sayang Sayang Fund responded with agility
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Opinion

Homeless during the pandemic: how our Sayang Sayang Fund responded with agility

John Doe
John Doe
a homeless person sitting on the ground

When Singapore locked down during the pandemic, homelessness became a visible, urgent issue. Cross-border commuters and people that had lost their housing due to irregular income or family conflict joined the rough sleepers who scrape by on the margins of our society.

But with any crisis, there is an opportunity to make things better. In this instance, the authorities and social service organisations moved quickly, joining forces to provide temporary shelters. “The rapid expansion of overnight shelter capacity – from around 60 places at the start of 2020 to a peak of 920 during the circuit breaker – was a considerable feat and evidence of what can be achieved with bureaucratic will and an active civil society,” notes a new study called Seeking shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore.

Conducted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), this landmark study was funded by the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund(SSF). SSF decided to fund this research project to gain deeper insights into the issue of homelessness and how charities can better meet this critical gap.

The study involved a nationwide street count in 2021 and in-depth interviews and was led by Dr. Ng Kok Hoe, a senior research fellow and head of the Social Inclusion Project at LKYSPP. Dr. Ng and his team found that in 2021, the number of homeless people who took refuge in temporary shelters shot up six-fold to 420 compared to 2019. 

Shelters offer greater safety, protection from the elements, and access to basic amenities. At one point during the circuit breaker, homeless shelters reached capacity. “Homelessness is one of the harshest forms of social exclusion,” the study points out. To be homeless in a pandemic, it adds, is to experience even sharper dislocation and hardship.  

Protecting people living on the streets during a public health crisis was one of the many challenges SSF stepped in to address swiftly. SSF was launched in February 2020 as an emergency Community Impact Fund (CIF) during the early days of Covid-19. It was designed to support frontline and healthcare workers.

Donors responded with overwhelming generosity to our appeal. SSF raised a total of $9.6 million from multiple platforms, tripling our initial target. A campaign on Giving.sg alone raised $1 million in donations from the public. All this helped turn SSF into our largest and most impactful pooled fund to date. 

As the pandemic unfurled, unmet needs among vulnerable groups in Singapore escalated. Our deep understanding of on-the-ground issues and strong relationships with charities and government agencies meant CFS could form strategic partnerships to channel funds to the needy in the fastest and most effective way. 

As part of its SafeSleep@Home initiative, SSF gave a $417,000 grant to four charity partners – AMKFSC Community Services, Good News Community Services, Methodist Welfare Services, and New Hope Community Services. The money covered daily necessities, furnishings, and other costs associated with sheltering over 476 rough sleepers.

As of December 2020, about 10% gained permanent housing. 

“Collaboration and trust are key in times of crisis,” says Joyce Teo, executive director at the Centre for Applied Philanthropy at CFS. Aside from rallying donor support, CFS tapped on its extensive cross-sector network to generate diverse perspectives, allowing SSF and other stakeholders to respond efficiently and collectively to the homelessness dilemma. 

To date, SSF has launched ten programmes. The fund has also worked with 891 grantee organisations and touched the lives of 359,302 beneficiaries. It is a powerful example of how collaborative philanthropy can tackle societal problems with agility. 

“The crisis created opportunities for different stakeholders and built new partnerships. It was also a useful learning curve,” notes Joyce. The learnings from this, plus the research findings from Seeking shelter, put CFS in a better position to deliver services to the homeless. “All these work together to help us build a more resilient community better equipped to deal with future crises,” she adds. 

To learn more about the Sayang Sayang Fund and its impact, please click here.

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Ng, K. H., & Sekhon Atac, J. S. (2022). Seeking shelter: Homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/research/ social-inclusion-project

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News

The Straits Times: From school to workplace: Help for disadvantaged youth

John Doe
John Doe
Two young people sitting on a couch, engrossed in a box of games, enjoying their leisure time together.

By Rahimah Rashith

2 new programmes offer vocational training and workshops under 3-year ITE initiative

To help disadvantaged youth transition smoothly from school into the work environment, a three-year initiative was launched at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) yesterday to offer them workshops and vocational training.

It is made up of two programmes.

The first, Youth Forte, is offered by Shine Children and Youth Services. It targets 17-to 21-year-olds who are not in school or training and have problems finding work.

They will receive evaluation, individual coaching, employability skills training, internships or project-based experience and vocational training leading to a Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) certification. The programme aims to help young people learn more about various career fields through exposure to the industry. They will also receive individual life coaching.

The second programme, called A.P.T.I.T.U.D.E, is offered by Touch Community Services in partnership with ITE. It works with industry partners to provide students with structured training and certification for a particular job, such as coffee making or outdoor camp facilitation.

Called the Singapore Youth Impact Collective, these programmes come after the social service sector recognised that, while education can help bridge social gaps, environmental factors – such as negative social influences or the home environment – can hinder youth from reaching their full potential.

Changi Foundation, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Credit Suisse, Octava Foundation, Shine and Touch are behind the initiatives.

To date, Changi Foundation, Credit Suisse and Octava Foundation have pledged close to $1 million towards the programmes.

CFS deputy chief executive Joyce Teo said the collaboration will help to address the complex social issues facing young people.

Last month, 17-year-old Natasha Chan, a first-year digital animation student from ITE College Central, learnt the art of coffee-making over two days through the Touch programme. She was trained by the Dutch Colony Coffee Co chain and is now thinking of becoming a barista.

“I learnt how to grind coffee beans and brew a cup of coffee,” she said.

“It is a skill I would not be able to pick up in my course. Learning this has widened my skills.”
Read more.

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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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Stories Of Impact

The power of the collective: CapitaLand Hope Foundation joins hands with AIC and CFS to bring cheer to seniors

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people holding a large check

How do you combat loneliness among older folk? The FUN! Fund – a partnership between Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) – hopes to do this by piloting activities that encourage play, generate laughter and build connections. It’s a fresh approach towards reframing the ageing challenge and a promising effort at collaborative philanthropy.

The brand-new fund has struck a chord with CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group. Established in 2005, the foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of seniors. It also aims to nurture and inspire the young and protect the environment for future generations.

“We believe that each older person deserves to live life to the fullest as they age in place and in the community. However, there are vulnerable seniors in the community who face daily life challenges such as mobility difficulties, isolation, and lack of adequate support due to family circumstances,” says Ms Lydia Ang, General Manager of CapitaLand Hope Foundation.

Loneliness is a serious issue for our elderly. It erodes mental and physical well-being and can even reduce lifespans. In mid-2021, a study by the Centre for Ageing Research and Education at Duke-NUS found that those aged 60 and above who see themselves as lonely can expect to live three to five years less compared to their peers who don’t feel lonely. The study, also found that a third of aged 60–69 years and 40% of those aged 80 and above perceived themselves as lonely. Those are sobering statistics indeed.

Two years of living under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made things much worse. Many older folks stayed home. Being less tech-savvy, they had to grapple with severe social isolation. Those in nursing and care homes saw a stark drop in visitors. Many caregiving staff shows increased burnout and psychological distress in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The FUN! Fund plans to empower community care organisations to collaborate with different stakeholder to develop fun and meaningful activities that seniors can look forward to. There will be development of playbook and post running workshops to share learnings for other organisations to replicate and implement.

CHF got to know about the FUN! Fund through its previous links with AIC and CFS. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, the foundation generously contributed S$700,000 to provide emergency support for community care providers and affected seniors and family members. For CHF, the FUN! Fund dovetails with its efforts to help seniors age in place through its #LoveOurSeniors initiative, which provides the vulnerable elderly with better nutrition, enhanced well-being and improved living conditions.

Tapping on its experience from #LoveOurSeniors, and by working jointly with AIC and CFS, the foundation believes it can help develop innovative programmes that bring cheer to isolated seniors. It also hopes to rally more like-minded partners and the community to join in this effort.

“Through FUN! Fund, multiple donors from different sectors are galvanised to pool and align funding against an agreed set of criteria within a short period of time. This has allowed smaller enterprises to leverage the larger network and platform of FUN! Fund to do good together, as they might not have sufficient resources to effectively contribute to the community on their own,” says Ms Ang.

The FUN! Fund is an example of a pooled fund spearheaded by CFS. Our collective impact funds are designed to raise capital from across the giving spectrum and unite partners to drive positive change. We bring together charities and donors, experience and insights, which amplifies the impact of giving and fosters new solutions.

No individual or organisation can solve complex social issues independently, and private foundations like CHF are embracing collaborative philanthropy. “We believe in the power of the collective, where different stakeholders with respective expertise, knowledge and skills come together as one, leveraging each other’s strengths and resources for the common good. Through the years, we have been rallying our employees, tenants, customers and the wider community to do good together,” says Ms Ang.

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News

The Straits Times: She helps pupils with special needs cope in school

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir

by Nur Syahiidah Zainal, 3 October 2016

Just as school starts to wind down in the last quarter, Madam Tutek Alauyah Amir’s work picks up speed.

Her mind skips ahead to new pupils entering Tampines Primary School next year – specifically the ones with special needs like dyslexia, autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – that she is gearing up to help.

For her dedication, the 56-year- old, an allied educator for learning and behavioural support at the school, won the Leading Foundation Teacher Award (LFTA) last year. The LFTA, started in 2014, specifically recognises early childhood and special needs education teachers who have made a difference to their pupils. Read more.

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Stories Of Impact

Motivating trainees towards a brighter future

John Doe
John Doe
A group of individuals standing together on a stage, smiling and posing for a photograph.

The new S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme spurs trainees from ITE’s Traineeship Scheme to reach for a better future.

In recent years, Singapore’s education system has been seeking to move beyond academic grades to a more holistic approach towards learning. Seeking to change broader mindsets towards the value of applied learning and work experience, Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has been steadily championing a ‘work-study’ approach through its Traineeship Scheme.

For a group of fresh secondary-school leavers, the scheme offers a much-needed alternative pathway. The course equips students with relevant industry skills – leading to both a nationally-recognised certification and career progression – while also allowing them to earn a monthly salary as they learn.

In September 2019, the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) launched the S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme, which supports financially-needy students from the ITE Traineeship Scheme.

Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), the SRNEUF has been supporting full-time ITE students in need since 2012. With CFS’s facilitation, the S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme was established this year in response to ITE’s appeal to extend support to trainees, many of whom come from families in challenging financial circumstances.

Similar to full-time ITE student profile, majority of students in the Traineeship Scheme are from lower-income households . While salaries for trainees start from $1000 before CPF deductions, trainees generally do not receive their income until their second month at work.

“We want to help this group of trainees because they are a group helping themselves by heading straight to the workforce after secondary school,” says Mr Aw York Bin, Deputy CEO (Industry). Joining the workforce is an uphill task for these young students, as they have to adapt to work-life while juggling academic commitments. “The S R Nathan Book Prize is an encouragement for them to persevere and complete the course,” he adds.

Additionally, the S R Nathan Special Assistance Scheme will help students from the lowest income tier with food and transportation for the first month before they receive their first salary. Lee Geok Teng, a student in Nitec in Business Services, remarks, “The traineeship has been a good way for me to be financially independent and enables me to pay my own phone bills and insurance.”

Ruthra Vaitheshwari D/O Thiagarajen, who is currently pursuing a Higher Nitec in Service Management, recalls the physical strain of managing work and her studies in her first three months. She says, “This award encouraged me further. The moment I received the prize from Mrs S R Nathan, I felt I should work harder.”

Muhammad Fadzrin Adzri B Adnan, a trainee who has worked at the Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel, says the traineeship has helped him build an edge for his future career. “Receiving this book prize is very unexpected and a motivation for all the trainees who have worked hard in this course,” he says.

Remarking on ITE’s long-term partnership with CFS, Mr Aw commented, “CFS has opened many doors for us over the years to reach out to potential donors and to raise awareness of the needs of vulnerable students. Their advice has been invaluable, as well as their capacity to facilitate conversations around the evolving needs of our students.”

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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”。

admin bluecube
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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.

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