250 families in Jalan Besar to get help with mental health issues and digital literacy

About 150 families living in one-room rental flats in Geylang Bahru Road received care packs.
About 150 families living in one-room rental flats in Geylang Bahru Road received care packs.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Some 250 underprivileged families in Jalan Besar will get help to improve their mental health and digital literacy.

The constituency, where seniors make up 60 per cent of residents, is the 10th area to come under the M3 @ Town initiative.

M3 @ Town falls under the M3 programme - a tie-up between Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council to serve the community.

Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC and adviser of M3 @ Jalan Besar, said the latest initiative aims to strengthen family, help residents cope with mental health issues and empower elderly residents to adopt digital tools.

"At the same time, we acknowledge that although we have many elderly residents, we also have young families coming in through BTOs (Build-To-Order flats). We also need to engage them and help their children to have digital literacy because we want a healthy cyberspace in the future," Dr Wan Rizal told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of M3 @ Jalan Besar on Sunday (Feb 7).

Mr Mohamed Shah Reza, who chairs the programme, said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that there is a gap in digital skills among seniors.

"There is an opportunity to bridge the young and old... We will engage them and see how we can move forward even stronger with our digital efforts," he said.

The programme's team also includes 25 volunteers from various professions and business sectors, as well as representatives from Mendaki, Muis and seven Jalan Besar Community Clubs' Malay Activity Executive Committees.

The initiative kicked off on Sunday with a charity drive. About 150 families living in one-room rental flats in Geylang Bahru Road received care packs containing items such as rice, sugar, oil and instant noodles.


Madam Puasa Omar said the items will be useful when she cooks meals. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

More than 20 volunteers, along with Dr Wan Rizal and other Jalan Besar MPs - Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, Ms Denise Phua and Mr Heng Chee How - helped to give out the packs.

Madam Puasa Omar, a 75-year-old resident who lives with her adult son, said the items will be useful when she cooks meals.

"My son was in a car accident previously and it's difficult for him to walk. He wants to find a job but it's hard because of Covid-19," said the retired cleaner.

Freelance photographer Muhamad Syazwan Mohd Salleh, 25, travelled from his home in Sengkang to help with the distribution.

"I should lend a helping hand during this difficult time. I don't usually see many elderly people living alone in Sengkang. I think the bit of charity work we did today means a lot to myself and the seniors," he said.