'More maids seek help for emotional issues'

'More maids seek help for emotional issues'
PHOTO: The Straits Times

More foreign maids are seeking help to deal with emotional issues, according to new figures.

The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) said yesterday it received 3,110 calls to its hotline between June 2013 and last month - 45 per cent of which are related to emotional problems.

Employment issues (30 per cent) and personal development (20 per cent) were other top concerns among callers. Monthly calls to the hotline have grown from 30 when it started in June 2013 to 166 last month. It is the first time that Fast has revealed data about its hotline.

Meanwhile, a Fast survey of 400 maids here - from a sample pegged against the maid population of different nationalities here - revealed that 12 per cent do not get a day off each month.

Sixty per cent had between three and five days off a month, while the remainder had one or two.

The survey also revealed that attending training courses is the most popular way for a maid to spend her day off, just beating spending time with other maids.

Fast president Seah Seng Choon said: "I was surprised that there are still maids without monthly days off. We will certainly look into it and find out the reasons why."

Two initiatives will be launched in the light of the findings.

Fast is looking for bigger premises for a second clubhouse for maids. The current 260 sq m clubhouse at Raeburn Park has a capacity of 150. Fast says that this is insufficient to accommodate the attendance on Sundays, which can go above 200.

It also plans to set up a culinary centre in order to meet the high demand for cookery courses.

Mr Jolovan Wham, executive director of the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, said employers tend to be more accepting of training courses as a reason to give maids days off, which could have contributed to the interest in training courses.

He added: "The actual figure for maids without monthly days off will definitely be higher as maids without days off are the ones who cannot be reached for surveys."


This article was first published on July 22, 2015.
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