As many as 500 women will hit the ground as 'befrienders' to reach out to heartlanders on government schemes and policies in May.
Launched on Sunday, the Women's Executive Committee (WEC) Befriender Programme will see its grassroots leaders reaching out to heartlanders through its various programmes, especially the low-income, elderly and women.
They will be trained with communication and outreach skills as well as detailed information on government schemes such as the pioneer generation package, for a start. The programme will eventually expand to include outreach on other policies such as Medishield Life.
Dr Amy Khor, said that they aim to have at least 1,000 WEC members- or about half of its more than 2,400 members, to be trained and empowered to reach out to the target groups. The advisor to the People's Association Women's Integration Network (Win) Council added that the programme is "timely" as the Government Benefits and Citizen Knowledge Polls conducted by Reach between September and December last year, showed that even though 7 out of 10 Singaporeans were generally aware of various government policies and schemes, the elderly and low-income earners were less likely to be aware of them.
"The WEC befrienders will not only explain major government schemes to residents but also provide a social support network by befriending them, especially the elderly, and sharing useful information that can benefit them," added Dr Khor.
Currently, there are 105 WECs islandwide with more than 2,400 members- of which, some 400 are from the pioneer generation. Last year, the WECs formed 500 interest groups.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam launched the programme at Orchid Country Club and in his speech, lauded the programme as an "excellent initiative." He also added that the WEC members are "well placed to do this on the ground as they are often in touch with residents."