Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what are the overall measures to assist the vulnerable in the community such as cardboard collectors, beggars, rough sleepers and pedlars; and (b) what are the ways by which the Ministry can better and continually communicate to the public on the help measures available so that longer-term sustainable support can be given to these vulnerable.
1. There are various schemes and initiatives to provide assistance and support to those in need. For those who require financial assistance, they may apply for ComCare assistance or the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG). To support employees and self-employed individuals who have been financially impacted by the current period of Heightened Alert measures, we have also implemented the CRG-Temporary (CRG-T) scheme to provide temporary financial support. For clients who require employment support, we link them up with Workforce Singapore or the Employment and Employability Institute. For clients with housing or other social issues, we similarly link them up with the relevant agencies accordingly to help resolve their issues.
2. In parallel, MSF continues to work with community partners to reach out to and befriend those who may be more vulnerable in the community. For rough sleepers, there is the Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers (PEERS) Network. PEERS Network partners engage rough sleepers and may refer them to overnight community-based shelters, known as Safe Sound Sleeping Places. Rough sleepers who require short-term accommodation and onsite social work intervention to secure stable housing can seek shelter at MSF-funded Transitional Shelters. Social workers at the Transitional Shelters work with individuals to address their various underlying social issues and progress towards stable long-term housing.
3. For tissue sellers and cardboard collectors, befriending groups from the Vulnerable-in-Community (VIC) Network engage them to find out their needs and bring them into the social support system if they are willing. For example, VIC partners refer individuals needing financial assistance to Social Service Offices (SSOs). If other forms of assistance are required, the SSOs link them up with the relevant help agencies.
4. MSF regularly shares information on the various available schemes and initiatives, including outreach efforts, through various public communication platforms such as the media, MSF website, MSF Facebook and MSFCares, an electronic newsletter which is disseminated to our partners to keep them connected with news and updates from MSF Family. This includes documentary series and videos which showcase various social issues and the support for beneficiaries. One example would be news stories on the efforts by our charity food workgroup to tackle the issue of food insecurity and the coordination of food support for those in need. Another example would be MSF's collaboration with Nanyang Polytechnic students to produce a video featuring PEERS Network partners, such as Yio Chu Kang Chapel and Homeless Hearts of Singapore, who provide rough sleepers safe places to stay and help them navigate challenges. We also work with our partners such as other government agencies, social service agencies, grassroots organisations and leaders, and our volunteers to raise public awareness of available assistance schemes. We have plans to expand our engagement efforts. We will continue to feature the work of our existing partners to inform as well as inspire those who are interested to join our outreach and befriending efforts. We would also like to encourage members of the public who come across a rough sleeper, cardboard collector or tissue paper seller who is in need to contact the ComCare hotline at 1800-222-0000 or refer them to the nearest SSO for assistance.