NUS researchers launch online campaign to raise awareness of poverty in Singapore

Researchers at NUS have launched an online campaign called Singaporeans Left Behind to raise awareness about challenges encountered by the poor.
Researchers at NUS have launched an online campaign called Singaporeans Left Behind to raise awareness about challenges encountered by the poor.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - While resources are available to help the people on low incomes, many of them do not know how to tap into them, while others do not seek help for fear of being stigmatised and alienated.

This was among the findings by a group of National University of Singapore researchers who spent the past three years observing and interviewing 180 low-income individuals.

The three researchers, led by Professor Mohan J. Dutta, have produced a White Paper on their key findings and on Wednesday, they launched an online campaign called Singaporeans Left Behind to raise awareness of the everyday challenges encountered by the poor.

The month-long campaign will include a print advertisement, an online video, a website, social media outreach and a documentary film.

"The absence of voices of at-risk communities from policy-making platforms can be tied to their impoverishment," said Prof Dutta, who is director of the the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation. "Without input from these community members, policies and initiatives designed to help them may not resonate with their lived experiences."

The study found that some low-income individuals, particularly those who are unmarried or single parents, face obstacles applying for a Housing Board flat because of policies that cater to the traditional nuclear family unit.

Others are unable to afford healthcare expenses due to insufficient savings or low incomes, despite the government's efforts to help the needy through schemes like the Medifund. In applying for financial assistance, some shared accounts of stringent eligibility requirements and tedious applications

The researchers will publish two additional White Papers within the next month on solutions proposed during dialogue sessions with the community.