Punggol gets Social Service Office

The new Social Service Office in Punggol.
The new Social Service Office in Punggol. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - New minister Ng Chee Meng opened a new Social Service Office in Punggol on his first day of work on Friday.

Mr Ng, who was sworn in on Thursday as Acting Minister of Education (Schools) and Senior Minister of State for Transport, said that what many needy residents in the area need is short-term financial help.

He said: "We want to make sure we map out proper packages to help them in the immediate term but, for the longer term we hope to match them with proper jobs so they can get back on their own feet, earn a dignified living and contribute back to society."

The office, at Punggol 21 Community Club, 80 Punggol Field #04-01, is the 23rd opened by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

Mr Ng added that his priorities for the relatively young estate of Punggol are expanding its infrastructure and ensuring the availability of schools and childcare for the area's young families.

The former chief of defence force was joined by MSF Parliamentary Secretary, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, for the opening ceremony.

The office now provideshelp to about 280 households in Punggol, and has also seen about 90 walk-in cases since it started operations on Sept 7.

The office's general manager Tan Sushan said that residents who approach them for help are mostly families with young children who need help coping with expenses, or have foreign spouses who are struggling to integrate, find employment, and locate childcare.

They are also working with voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) Hope Worldwide to befriend elderly residents living alone in the area.

The Social Service Offices work with VWOs and community partners in their areas to better coordinate the social services.

Along with family service centres islandwide, they will put help within 2km of where 95 per cent of needy residents live or work.

A 24th office - the final one for the year- is set to open in Taman Jurong in November.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg