SINGAPORE - Residents will have easier access to government-run community programmes in their neighbourhoods now that M³ is collaborating with government agencies.
M³ is an alliance of three key Malay/Muslim organisations created in 2018 to uplift the community. It comprises Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.
The M³ collaboration with government agencies came on the same day that M³ launched its first focus area - strengthening support for marriage, parenthood and early childhood development - on Tuesday (April 23).
M³ has also carved out two other focus areas: vulnerable individuals and families as well as empowering and mentoring young people.
The first focus area will be helmed by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development and Education Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.
It will support Malay/Muslim families across key life junctures: marriage, parenthood, and early childhood education. It will do so with support from government agencies including the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) as well as community and grassroots organisations.
"We are coming together to provide a continuum of care for fellow Singaporeans who are embarking on their journey of marriage, throughout their parenthood and the early childhood development of their child," said Associate Professor Faishal. "We believe that when we come in early and engage people early on, it will help them have a good start in developing strong families."
How M³ will help in focus areas
1. Marriage, parenthood and early childhood development By laying foundations for a strong family early, through marriage preparation and support, nutrition, cognitive development and numeracy skills
2. Vulnerable individuals and families By strengthening outreach to inmates' families and children at point of incarceration and post-release follow-ups
3. Empowering and mentoring young people By connecting young people with mentors and role-models in the community For more information on the various programmes available, go to M³@WGS, the organisation's information and referral centre at Wisma Geylang Serai.
He added that the collaboration will let the various organisations share information to "galvanise and coordinate our efforts together to benefit more people".
Government programmes will now have a greater outreach with M³'s collaboration, he said.
For a start, its collaboration with ECDA will see the ongoing Preschool Outreach programme, which was introduced in 2007 and which currently includes children who are at least three, reaching more people through home visits.
In 2018, ECDA appointed Yayasan Mendaki as a preschool outreach agency. It visits homes to share the importance of preschool education and identifies the status of the children. Families that need help are referred to relevant social agencies.
With ROMM, M³ will strengthen marriage preparation by arranging for soon-to-be-married couples to have a one-to-one engagement with a naib kadi or wedding solemniser. The initiative will complement marriage preparation courses organised by others.
"We recognise that there are small groups of families that are facing challenges. We will share more programmes if needed," said Associate Professor Faishal. "We want to see how we can share more community programmes to really move to the depth of the issue, help them, uplift them and give them a support system that will help them through their marriage and parenthood."
Couples will get information and tips on what they can expect when they get married, said Associate Professor Faishal.
Explaining how the course will help put marriage in perspective, he said: "Many times, people are just busy with the preparations of marriage and get flooded with many things to do. But they may not understand the purpose of why they are getting married. So simple things like these are very purposeful."
Last month, MSF launched the Marital First Responder Training with the support of M³. Volunteers in the community were trained to provide basic marriage support to couples. These volunteers include religious educators, grassroots leaders and individuals keen to help.
More government programmes are expected to be included.
The programmes will have an extended outreach at various neighbourhoods through M³@Town, which brings community programmes to the heartland and connects residents to a more effective last-mile service delivery.
M³@Town, now in Tampines, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Nee Soon and Jurong, will be rolled out in four more towns this year: Bedok, Choa Chu Kang, Marsiling-Yew Tee and Woodlands.
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.