Ask Kopi Kakis to get your doubts cleared

Grassroots leader Srinivasan Sundaresan, 53, explaining how the new booklets may help Buona Vista resident Rachael Tay. Mr Sundaresan has been making home visits to raise awareness of various government policies.
Grassroots leader Srinivasan Sundaresan, 53, explaining how the new booklets may help Buona Vista resident Rachael Tay. Mr Sundaresan has been making home visits to raise awareness of various government policies.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Three booklets from the People's Association clarify govt policies

Housewife Sharifah Norma used to be clueless about the various financial aids that are available that can help her family.

Now, she knows where to seek assistance for her two schoolgoing children and elderly aunt. Her secret? A series of three booklets titled Ask Kopi Kakis (AKK).

Launched by the People's Association (PA), the booklets contain easy-to-understand information related to more than 100 policies consolidated from 20 government ministries and agencies.

The information ranges from housing grants and healthcare subsidies to education and employment schemes.

It is grouped into three themes that people would find relevant in different stages of their lives: Getting Ahead In My Career, Caring For My Family and Caring For Seniors.

WELL PRESENTED

I use the Malay version of the AKK booklets, especially the one on Caring For My Family because it helps me know more about the financial assistance schemes available.

HOUSEWIFE SHARIFAH NORMA, referring to the three booklets titled Ask Kopi Kakis

Said Madam Sharifah, 46: "I use the Malay version of the AKK booklets, especially the one on Caring For My Family because it helps me know more about the financial assistance schemes available."

She also taps the Caring For Seniors booklet to learn more about the Pioneer Generation Package, as she provides care for her elderly aunt.

Said PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng: "Instead of thinking about which government agency was offering which scheme... we organise information according to issues a resident might face during different stages of his life."

Residents can get copies of the booklets from their grassroots leaders, at community centres and clubs or download the online versions from the PA website.

The booklets are the latest in the wider AKK initiative that was piloted in December last year, which aims to help residents learn more about key government policies and schemes that can help them.

As part of the initiative, AKK kiosks have been set up at community centres and clubs islandwide, and mobile kiosks are deployed at community events to reach out to more residents.

PA has also been conducting training for its grassroots leaders on how to use the three booklets, so that they can help residents navigate them. They are also trained in communication skills.

By the end of the year, 2,500 grassroots leaders will have undergone training.

Each of them will then go on and train four to five of their grassroots volunteers, said Mr Ang. PA expects at least 10,000 volunteers to take part in the AKK initiative.

Grassroots leaders, such as Mr Alex Lim, said the booklets have been useful in helping them explain the various government policies and schemes.

"For example, permanent residents often ask me how to qualify for housing, and seniors ask me what they are entitled to under the Pioneer Generation Package," said Mr Lim, 32, chairman of Coral Ris Residents' Committee in Pasir Ris.

For residents such as English tutor Rachael Tay, 52, the booklets are useful because they address the needs of people in different stages of their life. They are also easy to understand as they explain the policies "in a clear and targeted manner", she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Ask Kopi Kakis to get your doubts cleared'. Print Edition | Subscribe