Aid office near home a boon to widower with three children

Since his wife died of cancer in February last year, Mr Ang K.T, 59, has been the sole pillar of support for his three schoolgoing children.

The widower has his hands full caring for his 20-year-old daughter who is intellectually disabled and attends a Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore facility.

After knocking off as a part-time painter in the afternoon, Mr Ang rushes home to cook and do housework before tending to his children after school.

He has a son, 14, in secondary school and another daughter, 19, at the Institute of Technical Education.

As he needs time to manage the household, he is able to hold down only a part-time job, paying $850 a month.

Barely able to make ends meet, he has been getting financial help from the South West Community Development Council for the past few years.

Yet, getting the extra money has not been easy. Whenever applications need to be made, he has to take leave from work and take a bus there. "It takes half an hour but I have to take the day off, and if I don't work for that day, I don't get paid," said Mr Ang in a mix of Mandarin and Hokkien.

So when a Social Service Office (SSO), administering the national ComCare scheme, opened a few blocks from his home last month, a load was taken off his shoulders. "It's just a two-minute walk away so I don't have to take leave and I can just walk up if I forget to bring certain documents."

Mr Ang gets $350 monthly under the ComCare Work Support scheme. A portion of his other expenses, such as utility bills and service and conservancy charges, is also being paid for.

The SSOs were one of the measures announced in last year's Budget with the aim of strengthening the social safety net for the vulnerable.

The target is to set up 20 SSOs in HDB towns islandwide so that together with the current 43 Family Service Centres islandwide, the network formed will put help within 2km of where 95 per cent of needy residents live or work.

Mr Ang hopes this year's Budget will give him some extra pocket money for a rainy day. "My biggest worry is what will happen to my special needs daughter when I am not around," he frets. "I have depleted my savings over my wife's chemotherapy sessions."