Help scheme in Bishan, Toa Payoh

Mr Benjamin Pwee outside the MFC Hair and Beauty Salon at Block 70, Toa Payoh Lorong 4, where the Bishan-Toa Payoh Community Collaborative will conduct a series of workshops and assistance programmes for residents.
Mr Benjamin Pwee outside the MFC Hair and Beauty Salon at Block 70, Toa Payoh Lorong 4, where the Bishan-Toa Payoh Community Collaborative will conduct a series of workshops and assistance programmes for residents.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The opposition team that contested Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in last year's General Election is initiating a series of workshops and assistance programmes for residents in the area.

The Bishan-Toa Payoh Community Collaborative, a non-profit company, aims to plug what it regards as gaps in help schemes, or point residents to assistance that is already available, its chairman, Mr Benjamin Pwee, said at the initiative's launch yesterday.

A weekly schedule of activities starts today. On Mondays, volunteers will meet residents who wish to seek assistance. Business advice clinics will run on Tuesdays, and there will be talks on Wednesdays, with the first being an introduction to a career as a property agent.

The activities will be held on the premises of MFC Hair and Beauty Salon at Block 70, Toa Payoh Lorong 4, after the close of business.

After three months, the collaborative may move to a permanent location, depending on residents' response and whether a suitable place can be found, Mr Pwee said.

"We want to be a connector, and bridge the gap for people in need," he said. One example he cited was that of a resident waiting for her government financial assistance to be renewed who was in need of money. Aware that she had basic accounting skills, the team arranged for some small businesses to give her bookkeeping work to tide her over.

Mr Pwee, secretary-general of the Democratic Progressive Party, said the initiative was non-political and organised under the Pwee Foundation, which he set up in 2013 in his personal capacity.

He led a joint team with the Singapore People's Party (SPP) to contest in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC at the Sept 11 polls, and garnered 26.4 per cent of the vote.

The SPP's Mr Bryan Long, who was part of the team, said his party's leaders were supportive of his continued engagement with Bishan- Toa Payoh residents through the collaborative. "We can put aside party politics to remain connected to the community," he said.

Also involved in her personal capacity is the National Solidarity Party's Ms Kevryn Lim, who is reaching out to single-parent families through her foundation for single parents called Caps, or Care, Assistance and Parenting Support.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Help scheme in Bishan, Toa Payoh'. Print Edition | Subscribe