Over 30 ex-offenders get free smartphone under initiative to help them reconnect with family and friends

A newly released ex-offender uses the new free smartphone from ISCOS that comes with Zero1's Unlimited Data Mobile Plans on Dec 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: MARCELLIN LOPEZ

SINGAPORE - More than 30 former offenders received a free mobile phone with a six-month unlimited data plan on Monday (Dec 9) to help them reconnect with family and friends.

Project Give A Line, Change A Life, which also aims to help them familiarise themselves with technology, was launched officially at Selarang Halfway House in Changi.

The initiative is by non-profit group Industrial & Services Co-Operative Society (Iscos), which helps former inmates and their families, and the smartphones come pre-loaded with the new Iscos app that was also launched on the day.

The app allows users to access Iscos programmes and services on the go, such as updates on new events and initiatives, signing up for upcoming events, or making appointments to seek assistance.

Those who received the smartphones were former offenders from Iscos' Project ReConnect, a programme which helps newly released ex-offenders who had spent three years or more in prison to reconnect with the community.

Iscos plans to give out 500 smartphones by the end of 2020.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Culture, Community, and Youth, who was the guest of honour at the event, said: "(These initiatives) provide beneficiaries with the access and skills needed to become familiar with using digital applications in their daily lives, and this includes various ways for them to reconnect with their friends and families."

The initiative is sponsored by food and beverage manufacturer Food Empire Holdings and virtual telco Zero1.

Mirah (not her real name), 30, was excited and happy to receive the smartphone, as she can now use it to keep in touch with her family.

She is unable to see her four children regularly, as she is under the Work Release Scheme, where she is released to work but has to return to Lloyd Leas Community Supervision Centre in Changi at the end of the day.

She is currently serving the rest of her sentence for drug-related charges, after being released from prison last month.

With the phone, she can video call her children every day.

"I miss my children a lot, and now I can use this to call them and find out how they are doing," she said.

Another former offender, Richard (not his real name), 60, hopes to use the app to find out more about the Iscos subsidies available to him that he can use to upgrade himself.

"I can use the app to keep in contact with those from Iscos, and also find out more about how to enrol myself in a barista course," he said.

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