Firms, individuals receive Community Chest Awards for helping vulnerable groups

The awards ceremony was livestreamed from the Istana. PHOTO: COMMUNITY CHEST SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Since 2002, the Singtel Touching Lives Fund has raised over $45 million to help children and youth with special needs acquire skills to lead independent lives.

The telco, as one of the founding members of the Singapore Business Network on Disability, has also helped provide more opportunities for people with disabilities. For example, it encouraged firms in the network to participate in university career fairs for tertiary students with disabilities.

For its efforts in supporting the development and inclusion of vulnerable groups in society, Singtel on Friday (Dec 12) received the Pinnacle Award, the highest accolade at the Community Chest Awards.

This year, a special Community Spirit Award was also presented to 107 organisations and individuals for their contributions to pandemic-related causes, said Community Chest chairman Phillip Tan at the ceremony livestreamed from the Istana.

The award recognises both monetary contributions as well as in-kind donations of essential items such as masks and hand sanitisers.

The recipients include Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and local real estate company Perennial. Perennial partnered Hong Kong-listed company Shun Tak Holdings to distribute five million masks to various community homes that care for vulnerable seniors and children, as well as individuals with disabilities and rough sleepers.

SPH also received the Enabler Award, which recognises those who have helped to amplify outreach or fundraising efforts for the Community Chest.

In 2019, SPH launched the Double The Love initiative, where public donations to Community Chest's funded programmes were matched dollar-for-dollar by SPH and its charity arm, SPH Foundation. The campaign raised $426,000, which supported beneficiaries in 21 programmes supported by the Community Chest.

The Community Chest's Mr Tan said he is heartened that many partners have stepped up to help others when the pandemic struck, and he thanked other firms that have advocated for inclusive business practices.

"The needs of the (social) sector will only increase and become more complex and varied over time. It is crucial that we take an 'all hands on deck' approach to supporting the vulnerable communities among us," he added.

President Halimah Yacob attended the awards ceremony, which was hosted by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli. In total, 272 organisations and people were recognised at the ceremony.

DBS received the Volunteer Partner Award and Charity Platinum Award for its regular volunteerism scheme and its donations to Community Chest.

DBS Singapore country head Shee Tse Koon said the bank supports volunteering efforts by, for example, institutionalising two days of volunteer leave for all employees, during which they are off work to perform charitable acts.

The pandemic has also pushed the bank to think out of the box to conceptualise new and innovative volunteering formats with Community Chest beneficiaries, said Mr Shee. In June, the bank started a virtual befriending volunteer initiative with social service agency Lions Befrienders, where seniors can interact with DBS employees virtually.

Singtel also sees a need to continue giving back to society in a time of crisis.

Ms Chua Sock Koong, group chief executive of Singtel, said: "As a home-grown company, we want to stand together with the broader community and keep them supported during this time... We also want to encourage and show our gratitude to our healthcare workers and volunteers, who have been working tirelessly and risking their lives to keep us safe."

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