Budget 2021: 14,000 low-income families to benefit from ComLink over next two years

Madam Soo Bee Keow and her two sons are among those who have benefitted from ComLink programmes. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Around 14,000 low-income families with children will benefit from the Community Link (ComLink) initiative over the next two years as part of the programme's expansion, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16).

More resources will be provided to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to significantly expand ComLink into a nationwide programme to provide holistic support to more families, said DPM Heng.

Currently, around 1,000 families are supported by ComLink.

Introduced in 2019, ComLink is one of MSF's key initiatives to support low-income families with children who are living in rental housing by providing proactive and integrated help coordinated across multiple agencies.

Families can also tap other initiatives such as the Uplift and KidStart programmes for help.

"By mobilising community assets and galvanising local volunteering efforts, ComLink provides families with the tools and support to do better," said DPM Heng, noting that lower-income families are among those who have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

More details will be provided in the debate on MSF's budget.

Madam Soo Bee Keow, 40, said her two sons, six-year-old Jiang Hao Nan and seven-year-old Jiang Hao Dong, have benefitted from ComLink programmes.

Last year, she enrolled her sons, who are Primary 1 and 2 Corporation Primary School pupils, in Boon Lay's Kidspiration kidsREAD reading programme. The programme is offered by Boon Lay Youth Network (BLYN), a community partner of ComLink.

Once a month, her children would attend a 1½-hour class with volunteers where they engaged in activities like storytelling, song and dance and reading lessons.

The 40-year-old, who works two part-time jobs as a worker in a mask factory and a shop assistant, said: "During Covid-19, my family's finances were very tight and I didn't know how to teach them English.

"I couldn't afford tutors so I'm grateful volunteers could teach my sons. Now, their English skills are almost better than their Mandarin."

Her sons, who used to struggle with speaking and spelling in English, can now read storybooks by themselves and often score full marks for their spelling tests, she added.

Through ComLink partners BLYN and Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Jurong, her children have also received NTUC vouchers, items like schoolbags and story books as well as toys for Christmas.

Madam Soo said: "ComLink helped support my family and children tide over this difficult period.

"Even though our finances are tight, I'm glad the volunteers can help make my children happy."

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