Networking sessions for service groups

MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Joan Pereira and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee serving porridge to Madam Wan Lau Lui, 93, and her friends at Bukit Merah View Square yesterday, as part of the Hot, Happy & Healthy Meal project to help
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Joan Pereira and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee serving porridge to Madam Wan Lau Lui, 93, and her friends at Bukit Merah View Square yesterday, as part of the Hot, Happy & Healthy Meal project to help socially isolated residents of Project Care and Reachout for the Elderly.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

They will help everyone to work together to help others: Minister

Help for needy individuals and families could be more effective if it was offered in a concerted fashion by groups within the local community.

That is why networking sessions will be held for service groups to get to know one another and work together more effectively to help those in need, said Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development.

Social service offices, which come under his ministry, will be organising networking sessions town by town this year, he told reporters during a visit to the Henderson-Dawson district in Tanjong Pagar GRC yesterday.

Said Mr Lee: "Networking is really not rocket science. A room, maybe a buffet, some food, (we can) bring together people from different organisations."

Representatives from the likes of family service centres as well as grassroots or voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) can "come together, exchange name cards, shake hands, make friends, put a face and name behind a telephone number and e-mail", he added.

It is also a chance for them to explain what their organisations stand for, the programmes they run and the gaps that they face, he said.

Mr Lee said this will allow these service groups to work with "all the relevant agencies, volunteer groups, to harness the strength of government schemes and community volunteers".

WORKING TOGETHER

Networking is really not rocket science. A room, maybe a buffet, some food, (we can) bring together people from different organisations.

MR DESMOND LEE, Minister for Social and Family Development, on getting representatives from the likes of family service centres and grassroots or voluntary welfare organisations to come together

He cited the example of a group that works with youth at risk, which appreciates help from family service centres, school counsellors or government agencies, as it has no expertise in helping the families of these young people.

Yet it is important to look at these young people in their families and environment, he added.

Said Mr Lee: "Organisation silos and divisions fade away once people know each other because we all have one common purpose... We want to make a sustainable impact and improve the lives of the vulnerable."

During the debate on his ministry's budget earlier this month, he spoke about plans to make it easier for the needy to receive help from any front-line officer at a community or government agency, who will be armed with not just knowledge of what their agency provides, but also a range of other aid schemes.

Yesterday, he said networking sessions are also a way to rope in non-traditional groups, such as merchant associations and firms, that want to contribute to society.

An example of how service groups coordinate their services is the enhanced welfare committee set up by Ms Joan Pereira, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, in her Henderson-Dawson ward in 2016. She brought together the VWOs, agencies and organisations that serve the same group of residents.

While previously a family might receive similar support from different organisations, the help offered is now streamlined by the welfare committee, which can look at how else the family can be assisted.

The committee, which meets every month, also keeps in touch via e-mail and a chat group to discuss how best to help people in need, Ms Pereira added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2018, with the headline 'Networking sessions for service groups'. Print Edition | Subscribe