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Speech by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development & Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration at Glyph's Fundraising Dinner on 12 August 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Desmond Lee, All

Topic(s): Financial Assistance & Social Support, Social Service Agencies & Partners, All


Mr Shaun Wang, Founder and CEO of Glyph,

Members of the Glyph Board of Directors,

Donors, families, ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

1          Thank you for inviting me to Glyph’s fundraising dinner. I am happy to join you all today here.

2          I first got to know Glyph when I visited Jalan Kukoh. Jalan Kukoh is an HDB estate. The majority of Singaporeans live in HDB estates, 1.1 million homes, to be exact. Of that 1.1 million, there are some 50,000 that are known as HDB rental flats. HDB rental flats are provided to people, who for the time being, have trouble getting towards homeownership. This social safety net comes in to provide these families with a home, rented, not bought. They come as low as $26 a month.

MSF’s partnership with community partners like Glyph

3          Jalan Kukoh is one of those estates in the heart of Singapore. There are families who live here – they work very hard and face many challenges. We therefore have a ComLink Community there. Essentially, ComLink is a way to support our families who have been working very hard to improve their circumstances. That is where I first came across Glyph, who were there at the ComLink meeting as well. They spoke with a lot of confidence – maturity beyond their years – with a lot of passion. My curiosity was piqued.

4          That was when I found out that Glyph was one of the organisations working to support young people who come from families that I just described. Through that, I met a very energetic young man, Shaun, who persuaded many of us to come onboard – myself as patron and others as board members, to help this young dynamic organisation – run by young people, for young people – grow.

5          At some stage, they decided that they had to provide better services to the children they support, and that is why they are hosting this fundraising dinner. As a very young charity first starting out, fundraising was an uphill battle for Glyph as they were a relatively unknown brand and did not have IPC status yet. It is all thanks to their first batch of donors many of which come from their Board of Directors and Senior Advisers, who pooled money together to provide them with seed funding to begin their journey of growing Glyph.

6          I hope that you will continue to give generously and sustainably. Only through sustained giving can we achieve long lasting societal impact. In offering support over time, you would be able to see the impact of your contributions and how they have helped these families.

7          Let me give an example of this. Mr Dominic is one of Glyph’s beneficiaries, a single father, with two children aged 12 and 7. Although he sees value in sending his children for non-academic programmes to build their soft skills, he is unable to afford external enrichment classes which can be costly. Your continued donations help subsidise Glyph’s programmes in this area. I have heard that his children enjoy coming to Glyph’s programmes, making friends, and learning in different subject areas. Thank you for making a difference to families like Mr Dominic’s.

8          Besides their valued donors, Glyph also has a pool of very dedicated volunteers who serve as positive role models and sources of inspiration for the children. Aside from assisting our instructors to facilitate classes and activities, their most valuable role is providing emotional support and building precious relationships with the Glyph children, especially for those who volunteer every weekend. Glyph would not be able to do what they are doing if it weren’t for their volunteers.  In the same vein, we are also looking at bringing more volunteers in to be a befriender to our ComLink families.

9          Let me talk a little about ComLink here. ComLink is an approach that we developed. You will not be able find any precedent anywhere else in the world. Families like this require much more support, from many government agencies. We need to put families at the centre of what we do, not put the organisation at the centre. We have to reorientate it and put our families at the heart and centre of what we do. We make good use of data and find families with children who live in rental flats. And then we invite them to join us in ComLink. Instead of waiting for them to approach us, we reach out to them through ComLink befrienders. ComLink befrienders journey with families and work with them on action plans that the family endorses to address their challenges and achieve their aspirations.

10        Take for example, Mr Shen Jun, who has been volunteering with SSO @ Toa Payoh since June 2021. Mr Shen has been regularly checking in on Mr Max Wong and his family, who are ComLink beneficiaries.

11        Mr Wong and his wife were jobless between May and July last year, but with Mr Shen’s encouragement, they are now employed with Mr Wong working as a full-time security officer, while his wife is a shop assistant. Mr Shen also helped by providing relevant information on bursaries and relevant academic and child development programmes that could benefit Mr Wong’s eight-year-old son.

12        We need lots of befrienders, including those from Glyph. Glyph is one of many important partners who are operating ComLink on the ground, helping us support these families better so that these families have a good chance at social mobility.

Conclusion

13        Partners like Glyph, corporates, individual donors, volunteers as well as the government, all coming together to uplift those in need, truly reflects our Social Compact.  We can never be as effective working alone. 

14        To all those here today, thank you once again for contributing to our shared vision of a caring society. As part of recognising your efforts, MSF has designated 2023 as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners. I hope our partnership continues to strengthen and that we will all continue to find value in what we do.

15        Thank you all for stepping forward in your own way, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the dinner and performances later tonight.