HealthServe one of 10 recipients of MOM award

Since non-profit organisation HealthServe launched a 24-hour helpline for migrant workers in August, it has received about 400 calls each month.

More calls were recorded when tighter Covid-19 measures were announced, when there was a crisis in workers' home countries and during festive seasons. The helpline is manned by trained volunteers and counsellors, some of whom can converse in the workers' native tongue.

"The drawn-out pandemic and prolonged social isolation have placed a major strain on the mental health of the underserved migrant worker community in Singapore," said Mr Michael Cheah, executive director of HealthServe.

Yesterday, HealthServe's efforts, including upskilling officers from the Assurance, Care and Engagement Group - a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) division - and volunteers in the Friends of ACE (Face) network with mental health training, were recognised. It was one of 10 recipients of the MOM Valued Partner Award, presented at the ministry's inaugural Partners' Appreciation Event.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, who attended the event, said volunteers from Face form an important social support system for migrant workers, helping to implement and communicate safe management measures in dormitories. "This is very important as we work to curb the number of Covid-19 infections among migrant workers. They also help to explain the advisories, guidelines and policies in the dorms. Our Face volunteers also gather timely feedback from the ground, allowing us to deliver better care and support for our migrant workers," he added.

Systems on Silicon Manufacturing Company (SSMC) was another recipient of the award yesterday. Since 2016, it has reskilled 115 local workers - 43 per cent of whom are mature staff - to make a career switch to the wafer fabrication industry.

Ms Alice Cheng, its director of human resources, said helping older employees is important. They make up 35 per cent of its staff, which drove the company to make its work environment more conducive through artificial intelligence and automation.

It implemented the use of automatic guided vehicles to transport materials in the manufacturing facility. This has helped to offload manual tasks that mature workers did in the past so that they can focus on value-added tasks.

"As SSMC promotes diversity and an inclusive culture, it is part of our corporate culture to assist mature workers or young Singaporeans... to build a strong Singaporean core, and to stay employable in this challenging economy," added Ms Cheng.

Other award recipients include the Migrant Workers' Centre and Ms K. Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore.

Dr Tan said: "Amid this unprecedented year, stakeholders from all walks of life - including associations, businesses, chambers, non-governmental organisations, tripartite partners and even individuals - all of you came together to ensure that Singapore and Singaporeans emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2021, with the headline HealthServe one of 10 recipients of MOM award. Subscribe