Reaching out to Serangoon residents

Reaching out to Serangoon residents
Food stalls under Project Dignity, founded by social entrepreneur and executive director Koh Seng Choon (centre), are among those taking part in the new meals programme for the needy in Serangoon.

SERANGOON residents in need will be able to redeem free meals using tokens at some food centres in the area from March.

The Social Service Office (SSO) in Serangoon, officially launched yesterday, has partnered grassroots leaders and a family service centre to reach out to elderly residents and low-income families who are not eating adequately.

"Sometimes we come across elderly people staying alone or low-income families with young children who do not take proper meals," said Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng, who represents the Braddell Heights ward.

"Either they do not cook or they tend to prepare quick meals using canned food or instant noodles - this would have an impact on their health in the long term," he noted.

The new office will identify residents who need help on this front and distribute tokens to them.

The meals programme is among several projects initiated by the office since it started operations three months ago.

The SSO at Block 332, Serangoon Avenue 3, joins 14 others - part of plans by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to set up 24 offices across the island by this year.

The office will disburse funds to needy residents, and work with voluntary welfare organisations and community partners in the area to coordinate the social services being offered.

Along with family service centres islandwide, the SSOs will put help within 2km of where 95 per cent of needy residents live or work.

Since October last year, the Serangoon office has handled about 500 cases.

Most involved residents in need of financial aid, or families who needed help with employment, medical or childcare issues, said general manager Lim Lay Ling.

The office was officially opened yesterday by Mr Seah.

Also present were Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, grassroots leaders and charity representatives.

Beside the entrance stood a mural showing a young man in a boat battling huge waves.

Residents and SSO beneficiaries had come together to paint the piece.

Mr Chan said their efforts showed the spirit that the SSO should embody.

He said: "It is not about clients coming here just to get help - it is about giving them a sense of mission and purpose, so that they too, regardless of their circumstances, can stand tall on their feet again."

This article was first published on Jan 30, 2015.
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