SINGAPORE - Grassroots leaders need to go forth into the community to seek feedback and not be bound by geography, said People's Association (PA) deputy chairman Chan Chun Sing.
Mr Chan, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, was speaking to 1,500 grassroots leaders and volunteers at the PA's annual grassroots seminar.
He called for greater outreach in private estates through neighbourhood committees (NCs), the equivalent of Residents' Committees (RCs) for private estate dwellers.
Unlike in public housing estates, where RCs are set up, private estate residents must organise themselves to form NCs.
The number of NCs is expected to increase from around 150 in 2013 to 200 by the end of this year.
Mr Chan also said grassroots leaders should transcend geographical boundaries to work with civic groups and volunteer welfare organisations, as well as merchant associations, student groups, and businesses.
"For PA, there is a second wing," he said, calling upon grassroots leaders to work more closely with these non-RC or NC groups. "Let us embrace them and draw them into a network. Only when these two networks work hand in hand together, will we have a strong social fabric."
Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru grassroots leaders have already started acting on this advice, by working with restaurants in the area to organise free meals for elderly residents living alone.
From the first meal at Mexican restaurant Lucha Loco in Duxton Hill in January, the programme has expanded to 20 eateries, which have treated more than 500 seniors to date.
Silat RC vice-chairman Sabura Bagum, 48, said: "Many senior citizens don't get to experience much of the outside world. They appreciate someone bringing them out to try new things."
She added that the volunteers also take this chance to listen to the concerns of senior citizens and explain to them government policies they might not know about, such as MediShield Life or the Silver Support Scheme.