$1m grant aims to support overlooked communities

At the podium are (from left) Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Far Fast Organization executive director Dorothy Chan and chief executive Philip Ng during the launch of the $1 million Bless
At the podium are (from left) Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, Far Fast Organization executive director Dorothy Chan and chief executive Philip Ng during the launch of the $1 million Bless Our City grant programme. With them on stage are the programme's sponsors and potential beneficiaries. The two-year initiative by the Far East Organization and Central Singapore Community Development Council honours the spirit of care and the contributions made by Singapore's pioneers.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Funding for groups that help ex-offenders, the mentally ill, those with special needs, migrant workers, vulnerable folk

At least 50 social service and community organisations have been invited to apply for a new $1 million grant set up specially to help communities which are often overlooked.

Bless Our City, a joint two-year initiative by the Far East Organization (FEO) and Central Singapore Community Development Council, aims to strengthen groups that help former offenders, people with mental health issues, those with special needs, migrant workers and vulnerable families and individuals.

Each applicant can expect to receive up to $20,000 to fund existing and new projects.

"We who have been blessed with much want to bless others too," said Mrs Dorothy Chan, executive director of FEO, yesterday at the launch of the grant programme intended to honour the spirit of care and the contributions made by Singapore's pioneers this bicentennial.

Present at the launch at Far East Plaza was deputy chairman of the People's Association and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

It was also attended by 26 representatives of organisations invited to apply for the grant, such as family service centres, the Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled, Pertapis Halfway House and St Andrew's Autism Centre, among others.

The grant administrators said specific needs were identified and the organisations chosen from there.

PASSING IT ON

We who have been blessed with much want to bless others too.

MRS DOROTHY CHAN, executive director of Far East Organization.

FURTHERING THE CAUSE

We want to be able to give strength to their existing and upcoming programmes, and we also want to bring awareness and attention to their causes. We need to shape our society together.

MS DENISE PHUA, Mayor of Central Singapore District, on addressing service gaps and needs that have been identified in various communities.

Ms Denise Phua, Mayor of Central Singapore District, said: "We have tried to listen closely to what has been brought up in the public space, and have identified gaps and needs that have not been sufficiently addressed.

"We want to be able to give strength to their existing and upcoming programmes, and we also want to bring awareness and attention to their causes. We need to shape our society together."

Potential beneficiaries said an injection of funds would enable them to expand the reach of their programmes.

Mr Dennis Goh, 43, from halfway house The New Charis Mission, told The Straits Times that the grant would be used to fund its education programme for former offenders.

"It will be for the ex-offenders to not only quit drugs, but also to be contributors to society," he said.

Mr Goh went through the programme himself when he joined the organisation five years ago, after struggling to get clean from drugs for over 20 years.

It was a sea change for someone who had started taking drugs at the age of 16, but is now a full-time worker at the halfway house.

"With this grant, it will open up many doors for us (staff) to be further equipped for individual social work as well," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2019, with the headline '$1m grant aims to support overlooked communities'. Print Edition | Subscribe