SINGAPORE - Despite the new challenges brought about by Covid-19, the future is not all doom and gloom, with support available for those requiring help.
President Halimah Yacob shared this message and her concerns for families with financial woes who are unaware of benefits and subsidies, during her visit to non-profit group AMP Singapore's office at Pasir Ris East Community Building on Thursday (Aug 20).
Madam Halimah said: "I can see that families are under a lot of stress. Today, families face a lot of challenges. There's a lot of concerns because our society is evolving so rapidly. And then of course, there are new challenges and new concerns that they have to deal with.
"Then on top of all that, we are right in the midst of Covid-19. There are also concerns of loss of income, jobs and livelihood. So that exacerbates the whole situation. Therefore, it's very important that there's enough help being provided," she added.
With a focus on the local Muslim community, AMP, formerly known as the Association of Muslim Professionals, supports beneficiaries by providing support to families, debtors, micro business owners, students, young people and professionals.
As part of its Debt Advisory Centre, AMP helps 140 clients facing debt problems by providing them with advice and information on how best to pay back their loans.
It also helps another 60 families who are part of its Adopt A Family & Youth Scheme, where donors sponsor underprivileged families in the interim while a case worker helps them to upskill, find employment or tap subsidies and bursaries for the children's education.
The association has changed its mode of interaction with clients as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, shifting its counselling, case management and sharing sessions online except in urgent cases of distress.
During her visit, Madam Halimah met beneficiaries of AMP who had overcome adversity with the association's help.
One of them was document controller Simah Mohamed, 51, who received support from the association to pay back her debts and cut ties with unlicensed moneylenders.
She had turned to AMP in January 2018 after her debt snowballed.
The mother of two had taken loans to ease expenses incurred during her daughter's studies overseas, among other things.
Now, she attends support group meetings to encourage newcomers who have similar problems to resolve their debt and stay motivated.
Reflecting on her experience, Madam Simah said:"Be strong enough to voice out your problems, there will always be help.
"Now with Covid-19, we may not be able to physically meet as much, but we can still support one another through the phone."
Acknowledging the need for families to restructure their finances to tide over the current period, Madam Halimah advised families facing difficulties servicing their loans to "seek help early".
She also hoped that in addition to the government funding that AMP receives, generous donors and the larger society would continue to support the association's initiatives so that it may continue its work.