Nanyang neighbourhood rolls out Pay It Forward programme, local 'art gallery' scheme

Residents queueing at a drink stall that participates in a "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91.
Residents queueing at a drink stall that participates in a "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A signboard detailing the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91.
A signboard detailing the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A resident redeems a drink as part of the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91.
A resident redeems a drink as part of the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A resident redeems a drink as part of the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91.
A resident redeems a drink as part of the "Pay It Forward" programme at Block 959, Jurong West Street 91. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Every morning, Mr Jumain Sedut, 59, will sip a kopi at the coffee shop near his house and watch the sun rise.

At $1.10 a cup, the habit does not come cheap for the former dispatch rider, who suffers from chronic heart and liver conditions and cannot work. But lately, some of his coffee has been free - courtesy of generous, anonymous neighbours.

It is part of a local "Pay It Forward" programme in the Nanyang ward of Chua Chu Kang GRC. Under the scheme, anyone can pay for cups of coffee or tea at two coffee shops, and these beverages can then be redeemed by poorer residents.

To do so, they flash a card given to them by staff from the local community club or by residents' committee members.

Said Mr Jumain of the scheme: "It's a bonus for people like me, and helps me save money. Even $10 is very hard to get."

Since the programme began three months ago, 1,000 beverages have been redeemed, said Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Yee Chia Hsing.

"It's not an assistance scheme, but builds up a spirit of giving among residents," he said on Monday (Sept 26) at a media briefing ahead of a community visit to the area by Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.

Mr Ng's visit is scheduled for Oct 15, and is his first ministerial community visit since he took office after the general election in 2015.

The People's Association organises these visits to provide more opportunities for new ministers to get a better understanding of concerns on the ground.

Another new programme in the neighbourhood is Arts@Nanyang, where students from the six schools in the area can exhibit their artwork in the community club. The exhibition will begin on the day of Mr Ng's visit.

Interested residents can then buy their artwork, and the funds will be channelled back to the students via their schools to pay for more art courses.

Residents are also being informed about proposed upgrades to their estate under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, which is fully funded by the Government. They will have to vote whether to accept these proposals in October.

Proposed upgrades include covered linkways, more drop-off points, and expanding a 100m running track to 400m. A Roman colosseum-themed amphitheatre at Jurong Street 81, which currently has steps and no ramps, will also be revamped for barrier-free access.

Said Mr Chan Tian Sung, 56, a retiree and wheelchair user: "To get from one side (of the arena) to the other, I have to go one round around it now. It's not that far, but upgrading will make it more convenient for me."