Business owners aim to give ex-offenders a fresh start

He saw his sister making a turnaround after her jail stint for drugs, and wanted to help ex-offenders like her.

Brother's Barber Holdings, owned by duo Noor Izwan Noor Jali and Zen She Yikai, both 28, is one of the organisations collaborating with the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) to offer work training for ex-offenders.

Starting September, the company will be holding a one- to three-month basic haircutting training for ex-offenders for free.

The owners' desire to help ex-offenders is very close to the heart - Mr Izwan's sister is an ex-offender.

She first started sniffing glue and abusing crystal methamphetamine (Ice) when she was 15, and went to jail in her early 20s.

Mr Izwan said: "When she came out of prison, she really changed. She started working odd jobs, and now heads her own business."

"If my sister can change, so can other people," he added.

The duo, who met while working at Jean Yip Salon, said they have many friends who are ex-offenders.

"We know how easy it is to go back to their old ways, and our training would hopefully give them a clearer sense of purpose," said Mr Noor.

Training for their basic haircutting course will take place at Sana and at their barber shop at PPT Lodge 1B Workers Dormitory at Seletar North Link, a foreign workers' dormitory.

Each batch of six participants will be given an allowance of $200 per month to sustain themselves before finding a permanent job.

Training takes place three times a week, lasting five hours each session.

JOBS

Graduates from the course are welcome to join any of Brother's Barber Holdings' outlets - other than the Seletar outlet, there is one at Tuas and another at Woodlands.

The Central Narcotics Bureau reported that 3,343 drug abusers were arrested in 2015, a 6 per cent increase from 2014.

More than two-thirds of the new abusers arrested were below the age of 30.

Ice and heroin were the two most commonly abused drugs.

Mr Noor also explained why he and his partner decided to set up shop in a foreign dormitory.

He said: "When we worked at Jean Yip Salon, we often saw foreign workers glancing our way. We thought of bringing the hair salon experience to them."

Their services include haircut, colouring, rebonding, highlighting, and scalp treatment.

The shop now sees about 100 customers on weekdays and 200 customers on Sundays, mostly foreign workers.

"Unlike in regular hair salons, we can talk about anything with them. They are more than happy to share about their family, marriage plans," said Mr Noor.

Sana opens support centre

The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) will officially open its Step-Up Centre today, with Ministry of Home Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin as guest-of-honour.

The organisation provides assistance to ex-drug offenders and their families for immediate and long term-needs.

Examples of immediate needs provided by Sana include small sums of money, pre-paid food vouchers and ez-link cards.

Ex-drug offenders could also hone lifelong skills together with Sana, as it provides guidance to upgrade their jobs, social skills, and links them to supportive social networks.

While the centre is primarily to help ex-drug offenders, all ex-offenders are welcome to seek guidance at the centre.


This article was first published on July 26, 2016.
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