Malaysia opens first charity hotel offering meals, beds, counselling and Covid-19 jabs

The kitchen at the former Grand Seasons Hotel which used to cook for banquets, now serves up free meals for the needy.
The kitchen at the former Grand Seasons Hotel which used to cook for banquets, now serves up free meals for the needy.PHOTO: WILAYAHKU

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's first charity hotel has opened in Kuala Lumpur, providing meals, beds, counselling services and Covid-19 vaccines to those hard hit by the pandemic.

The 600-room Rumah Prihatin @ Grand Seasons - "rumah prihatin" means caring house - occupies the premises of the former Grand Seasons Hotel which closed two years ago.

The charity hotel's chefs, who used to serve large banquets, now run a soup kitchen for the poor as well as front-liners. It has served about 15,000 food packs since the hotel opened on July 15.

The hotel, located on the same road as Kuala Lumpur Hospital, also has a mental health counselling and therapy service. Non-governmental organisations as well as psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors will provide free counselling and therapy, including financial counselling, art therapy and spiritual therapy to those in need of help.

"The consequences of Covid-19, in particular, have greatly affected the vulnerable, the hardcore poor and the urban poor," the hotel's director of administration and programme Ida Harlina Ikhwan Nasir told The Straits Times.

"These sessions are strictly confidential to ensure patients' comfort and confidence, especially the ones who are suffering from stress, depression and anxiety due to the pressure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic," she added.

More than 30 counselling sessions have been held since the hotel opened, and virtual sessions are also being offered.

Street hawkers, senior citizens and other groups of people can also walk into the centre to get their Covid-19 jabs so that "everybody in the city is vaccinated", according to Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa.

Some 300 rooms are available at RM30 (S$9.60) per night for people who need a place to stay for a short period, including front-liners who require a room to rest or freshen up before going home.


The hotel also has a mental health counselling and therapy service. PHOTO: WILAYAHKU

"This is to help them feel fresh, rejuvenated, with peace of mind that they will not endanger their loved ones at home if they come back straight from their high-risk workplaces," said Datin Ida Harlina.

The hotel is now managed by the Federal Territories Foundation, the welfare arm of the Federal Territories Ministry, alongside partners from Pulse Grand Hotel, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Putrajaya Corporation.

It has had more than 1,002 guests and administered nearly 10,000 doses of vaccine since it opened its doors.

It has also distributed food bags to nearly 4,000 poor people in Kuala Lumpur.

"We have been receiving an overwhelming response from the public," said Datin Ida Harlina, adding that the hotel is seeking volunteers as well as donations to help keep it running.


Getting help

National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868 (8am - 12am)

Mental well-being

Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg website (Mon to Fri, 10am to 12pm, 2pm to 5pm)
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222 (24 hours)
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444 (24 hours) /1-767 (24 hours)
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm) 
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6386-1928/6509-0271  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788 (Mon to Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)/ Tinkle Friend website (Mon to Thu, 2.30pm to 7pm and Fri, 2.30pm to 5pm)

Counselling

TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252  (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800 (Daily, 10am to 10pm)