Second tranche of Invictus Fund open to social service agencies

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announcing the second tranche of The Invictus Fund over Zoom.
Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announcing the second tranche of The Invictus Fund over Zoom.PHOTO: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SERVICE

Social service agencies can now tap a second round of funding to transform their service delivery and operations to cope better with future demands, such as by acquiring digital technology.

The second tranche of The Invictus Fund, launched in April, is open for applications from now until Oct 30.

The fund is meant to help social service agencies continue providing critical services to vulnerable groups amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announced this to about 500 social service professionals, companies, donors and public sector representatives over videoconferencing platform Zoom yesterday.

He said: "To make the social service sector more resilient and able to cope with future demands, we need to enable our social service agencies (SSAs) to transform to SSA 3.0 - driven by committed social service professionals, who are augmented by volunteers, and organisations that are enabled by technology."

As of Sept 21, $9.2 million has been raised from members of the public, and Budget 2020 also provided an $18.3 million top-up.

Mr Masagos noted that the Community Chest has seen a significant drop in donations to its funded programmes that are not directly related to Covid-19.

"In fact, we project a 20 to 30 per cent drop in donations in 2020. If this continues, it would become a longer-term funding issue for the sector," he said.

He urged companies to continue donating so that the Community Chest and SSAs can continue to provide their much-needed services.

 
 
 

The first round of funding from The Invictus Fund saw close to $6 million disbursed to 89 SSAs in June, said the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), which manages the fund.

About 82 per cent of the funds went towards supporting agencies to keep their services accessible to service users, while the remaining 18 per cent went towards building SSAs' digital capability and infrastructure for better connectivity and IT security, said the agency.

This includes equipping practitioners with appropriate software and hardware to ensure service continuity and accessibility to their clients as they work from home during the circuit breaker period.

Vulnerable seniors and clients also received prepaid cards to ensure connectivity to critical services, and front-line practitioners and clients were given care packages to improve their well-being.

One SSA that benefited is Lutheran Community Care Services, which digitalised its work processes with the funding.

Its clients can now submit child adoption applications digitally, instead of having to go in person, and they can also access support via virtual interviews through videoconferencing tools.

NCSS has also set up one-stop technology hub Tech-and-GO! (www.go.gov.sg/tng) to help the SSAs with their transformation.

It aims to cut down the amount of time needed by the SSAs to search for suitable digital solutions, and will also offer consultancy services and curated training courses.

Goh Yan Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Second tranche of Invictus Fund open to social service agencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe