BUDGET 2016 - Shaping our future together: Speech extract

Seniors taken care of by support network

Mrs Tan is cluster director of Peace-Connect, a voluntary welfare organisation that has looked after needy seniors in Kampong Glam since 1995. It started out as a three-man outfit taking care of fewer than 500 seniors; now, it has 17 full-time employ
Mrs Tan is cluster director of Peace-Connect, a voluntary welfare organisation that has looked after needy seniors in Kampong Glam since 1995. It started out as a three-man outfit taking care of fewer than 500 seniors; now, it has 17 full-time employees and about 20 volunteers who look after 2,000 needy elderly.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Community spirit is in the blood of 70-year-old Lucy Tan, who for more than 20 years has been helping to look after senior citizens in the mature estate of Kampong Glam.

Said the sprightly Mrs Tan, a retired school principal and former executive director of the Young Women's Christian Association: "I love serving the community and meeting new people, so I was very happy to help out."

Today, she is cluster director of Peace-Connect, a voluntary welfare organisation that has looked after needy seniors in Kampong Glam since 1995.

"Our role is to give the elderly comfort and peace of mind," she said.

It does so by bringing together a support network of local stakeholders, including social service offices, grassroots organisations, the Housing Board and the town council.

 

It also helps look after the medical needs of residents by bringing in doctors and physiotherapists regularly, Mrs Tan said.

 

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat cited her work at Peace-Connect as an example of how different groups, working together, can help the elderly.

"Lucy shows what is possible when we strengthen partnerships," he said when he announced a pilot Community Networks for Seniors programme.

At the heart of the scheme is a small team of full-time officers who will study the health and social needs of seniors. The initiative will be first trialed in a few areas and will be scaled up if successful.

The Government hopes the programme can help seniors better manage their health and encourage those who are healthy to stay active.

Peace-Connect has grown from a three-man outfit taking care of fewer than 500 seniors to one that has 17 full-time employees and about 20 volunteers looking after 2,000 needy elderly today.

Mrs Tan said: "Every day, we have about 320 people coming into our centre. They treat this place as a hub... It is a very kampung kind of spirit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Seniors taken care of by support network'. Print Edition | Subscribe