SINGAPORE - It was 3am when Mr Eric Tan's mobile phone rang and a desperate caller asked for money to pay off his cellphone bills.
"Some call at strange hours even though their cases are not urgent - but thankfully I am a light sleeper," said Mr Tan, 42, who single- handedly mans Community Chest's 24-hour helpline.
Eventually, he turned down the man's request as there was no critical or genuine need.
It was one of 300 calls that Mr Tan has received since the Com- Chest Care hotline was launched last month.
He has promised to answer all calls and meet those in need within 48 hours or, in urgent cases, immediately.
However, he does get help from some of his colleagues at the National Council of Social Service in handling the cases.
"I knew this would affect my personal life," said Mr Tan, who is a bachelor and an associate director with Community Chest.
"But I wanted to be a call away for those who need help in emergencies."
Most calls are from people asking for money to pay off debt or bills.
Mr Tan can hand out up to $200 on the spot to those who need it urgently - say, for meals or accommodation for the homeless.
However, the main aim of the hotline is to refer callers who need help to relevant organisations, such as family service centres, or provide interim assistance for critical emergency cases.