Reviving the 'kampong spirit' in Kim Seng residents through community programmes

SINGAPORE - Residents of the Kim Seng precinct within the Kreta Ayer neighbourhood are getting to know their neighbours better.

Residents are encouraged to revive the 'kampong' spirit by being friendly to neighbours and lending a hand to those in need under three community programmes spearheaded by grassroots organisations in the constituency.

The first programme, called Ageing Gracefully @ Home (AGH), involves the pairing of needy, vulnerable and frail seniors to a neighbour who will befriend them and keep an eye out on them. Now in its sixth month, the pilot programme launched at Blocks 51 and 52 Chin Swee Road has nine volunteers and 13 beneficiaries. The blocks were chosen for the pilot as they had the highest proportion of seniors living within the flats, Dr Lily Neo, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC and adviser to its grassroots organisations, told the media Wednesday morning.

She also shared updates on the constituency's Catch Plus Programme for youths aged between seven and 16. Under this programme, which was launched on April 21, 2013, grassroots volunteers help the youths academically, with extra classes and tuition. They also reach out to youths through activities such as sports and arts and crafts.

When the programme first started, fewer than 10 children went to the Catch Plus Centre daily. Today, the centre in Jalan Kukoh welcomes more than 40 youths every day.

Dr Neo on Wednesday highlighted a new initiative, called the C.A.R.E Ambassadors project which aims to foster 'gotong royong' (community spirit) among neighbours. Under the project, an ambassador, who is also a grassroots volunteer, will be appointed as a "modern village head" who will then come up with activities, such as parties, game nights or cook-outs, to get neighbours to bond.

Dr Neo said: "We left our kampong houses - huts with zinc roofs - many years ago, but we still want to maintain gotong royong." The C.A.R.E Ambassadors project will be officially launched by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on July 6.