1,160 needy families get $200 vouchers from social enterprise

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, giving out FairPrice vouchers at yesterday's lunch. The funds came from the surplus of about $250,000 earned by FutsalArena@Yishun.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, giving out FairPrice vouchers at yesterday's lunch. The funds came from the surplus of about $250,000 earned by FutsalArena@Yishun.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Some 1,160 less well-off families in Nee Soon GRC each received $200 in FairPrice vouchers yesterday from a social enterprise in the community.

The funds came from the surplus of around $250,000 earned by FutsalArena @ Yishun. The enterprise has been running sports facilities such as futsal and basketball courts at Nee Soon Sports Centre since 2016.

Nee Soon GRC MPs - Mr K. Shanmugam, who is Law and Home Affairs Minister; Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and Education; Ms Lee Bee Wah and Mr Louis Ng - presented the residents with the vouchers at a lunch event at MPC @ Khatib.

Mr Shanmugam told reporters Yishun's "kampung spirit" is very strong and that has helped the MPs build micro-communities to help different groups of residents, going beyond large government projects.

"Our grassroots and MPs must identify their needs, and the needs are not one-size fits all," he said.

"Some are health-related, some want to pursue further fulfilment, (there are) different age groups, so you need to target. Parents of young children have different needs from, say, people in their 70s or 80s, cancer support groups have different needs from kampung wellness groups.

"You try and cater across (different groups) and that's the way you build the relationships and bonds and the links within the community."

In a speech at the event, Mr Shanmugam assured Pioneer and Merdeka Generation seniors that there are many schemes to help them cope with the cost of living.

"We know our seniors have contributed a lot to our country. We will take care of you," he said, highlighting support for healthcare costs, long-term care and mobility aids, and income supplements.

Older workers earning less than $2,000 a month can receive up to $6,640 a year from the Government, for example.

The Bicentennial Bonus announced in this year's Budget will give lower-income Singaporeans up to $300 in cash.

FutsalArena's deputy general manager Syed Mohamed Alkhairid said that it has been operating with the goal of giving back to the community.

Besides offering special rates to residents, schools and students, "we plan to use a large portion of the surplus from our operations to help needy residents in Nee Soon", he said.

One such resident is Mr Foo Yong Yoke, 83, a widower who lives alone with two dogs in his three-room flat.

He said he was grateful for the vouchers as he has to rely on the Government for money for essentials. "I can use it to buy vegetables and fish to cook," said Mr Foo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2019, with the headline '1,160 needy families get $200 vouchers from social enterprise'. Print Edition | Subscribe