Parliament: MSF to launch Community Link to help families in rental flats

The Ministry of Social and Family Development is forming clusters of organisations offering social and other services at or near rental block precincts. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - To provide a more co-ordinated and comprehensive support for poor and vulnerable families with multiple woes, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is looking to bring together groups to run social service and other programmes at or near rental block precincts.

The MSF will set up the first four social service hubs, to be called Community Link, at Jalan Kukoh, Marsiling, Kembangan-Chai Chee and Boon Lay over the next two years.

They were chosen as there is a sizeable number of families with children living in rental flats in these areas and the locations are geographically spread out across the island.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said in Parliament on Tuesday (March 5) that Social Service Offices (SSO) will work with charities, government agencies, grassroots groups and other partners to engage families to get a better understanding of their needs and to provide relevant programmes and services.

For example, there may be parenting workshops or night-time student care services if there is a demand for such services.

The SSO administers the Government's financial aid schemes.

Mr Lee said: "Most importantly, ComLink will develop a sense of community and mutual help, with neighbours supporting one another in their journeys."

Mr Lee was replying to Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) and Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) who asked for more details about the Community Link.

In response to Dr Neo's question on the Community Link's outreach efforts, Mr Lee said that they will proactively reach out to families, starting with those with young children, to understand what they are going through and their aspirations to help them.

Mr Alvin Goh, cluster director of family services at Methodist Welfare Services, hopes the Community Link will build up neighbourhood networks and not focus only on running programmes administered by charities or government agencies.

He said: "Such ground-up initiatives will be more empowering."

Mr Lee also shared the MSF's plans to start a pilot Localised Community Network (LCN) programme to come up with ways to better support at-risk youth. This comes under the work of the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism.

The LCN will involve schools, charities and other groups in the Boon Lay and Jurong West regions. These were chosen to leverage on the other initiatives in the area, such as the Community Link.

The LCN will facilitate data sharing between relevant government agencies and its partners to ensure that young people receive targeted aid.

Mr Lee said: "We also look into the needs of children and young people who may be derailed because of family issues, such as financial difficulties or family conflict.

Without proactive early support and intervention, some of these youngsters may under-perform or start to skip school, he said. "Yet these are young people with potential and promise and we want to ensure they have the best chances in life."

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