No such thing as a free cup of coffee? Not quite, in this ward

Every morning, Mr Jumain Sedut, 59, sips a kopi at the coffee shop near his home and watches the sun rise.

At $1.10 a cup, the habit does not come cheap for the former dispatch rider, who has 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 other residents from poorer backgrounds.

SPIRIT OF GIVING

It's not an assistance scheme, but builds up a spirit of giving among residents.

MR YEE CHIA HSING, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP, on the scheme.

To do so, they flash a card given by staff from the local community club or by grassroots leaders.

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 started 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 yesterday 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 last year.

These visits, which are coordinated by the People's Association, are organised almost every month to give newer ministers an opportunity to get a better understanding of concerns on the ground in constituencies across the island.

Another new programme in the neighbourhood is Arts@Nanyang, where students from the six schools in the area exhibit their artwork in the community club.

The exhibition will begin on the day of Mr Ng's visit.

Interested residents can buy the works and the funds will be channelled back to the students through their schools to pay for 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.

Next month, they will get to vote for or against the upgrades, which include covered linkways and more drop-off points, and expanding a 100m running track to 400m.

An amphitheatre in Jurong West Street 81, which currently has steps and no ramps, will also be given 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 around it. It's not that far, but upgrading will make it more convenient for me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'No such thing as a free cup of coffee? Not quite, in this ward'. Print Edition | Subscribe