SINGAPORE - ITE second-year student Joel Ho spent four hours everyday delivering food by bike from March to September to ease his family’s financial stress after his father, a newspaper vendor, suffered a pay cut when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Earning around $30 to $40 a day, it was barely enough to help make ends meet for his family.
But the 19-year-old can quit his part-time job soon as he will be given financial support under a new $2 million fund launched on Monday (Oct 12).
The fund seeks to provide financial help to residents in the South East District who have been hit hard by the pandemic, and to raise awareness of mental health in the community.
It was set up by the South East Community Development Council (CDC) and Apricot Capital,the private investment firm of Super Group’s Teo family.
A total of $1.2 million in grants will be disbursed to around 2,400 residents from low to middle income households through their grassroots leaders.
The South East CDC oversees half a million residents in the Marine Parade Group Representative Constituency (GRC), East Coast GRC, Mountbatten Single Member Constituency (SMC) and MacPherson SMC.
A separate $320,000 will be given to students like Mr Ho as part of their pocket money for meals, stationary and books. These include students with special needs, as well as those in secondary schools and institutes of higher learning.
“I'll have more time to focus on my studies and won’t have to ask my Dad for an allowance anymore,” Mr Ho said.
Another $100,000 will be used to produce a play about mental wellness which the CDC hopes will strengthen mental resilience in youth and promote support networks.
The play will be screened for free at schools and institutes of higher learning within the South East District.
A further $80,000 will be set aside for mental wellness training and workshops to raise awareness on how people can support patients and their caregivers.
Lastly, $300,000 will be used to create community attachment opportunities for youths aged 18 to 35 who may have trouble finding employment in the recession.
With a monthly stipend of $1,000, they will be guided by grassroots leaders to identify problems in the community and roll out projects to solve them.
Mayor of South East District Fahmi Aliman said that while Covid-19 has deeply affected employment in Singapore, there are other impacts that may not be as apparent, such as its toll on mental health or when a family cannot afford education for their children.
“The Apricot Support for the Community Fund is timely and will definitely benefit many groups within the community, and South East CDC will work with our ground partners to connect them to the assistance they require,” Mr Fahmi said.