Youtube Facebook Twitter RSS Email Back to top
Font size  
Mobile | Contact Us | Find Us On

 
October 1, 2014 Wednesday | Last updated on 01/10/2014 5:46PM (Singapore)
 
Latest :
Home / People / Volunteers / Relaunching Lives through Community Support  
Published: 17 Aug 2012 10:53AM (Singapore)
Share this
 
Relaunching Lives through Community Support
Leveraging on the support of volunteers, the Community Outreach Project helps families of convicts while they are incarcerated.
 
By Daniel Govindan

Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs & Foreign Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli (top, centre) with new volunteers of the Community Outreach Project. PHOTO: Haikal Jamari

The inaugural Community Outreach Project (COP) Conference cum Networking Session was held on the 7 July 2012 as part of the Singapore Prison Service's (SPS) and SCORE’s efforts to engage grassroots volunteers and provide a platform for mutual sharing amongst them.

Aimed at bringing together community leaders and volunteers from the various grassroots divisions to share best practices and experiences in working with families of inmates, the event had a good turn-out and was attended by approximately 250 people, amongst them volunteers,Grassroots Advisors and Members of Parliament (MPs).  

Mr Masagos Zulkifli addressing volunteers during the Community Outreach Project cum Networking Session. PHOTO: Haikal Jamari

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs & Foreign Affairs, hosted the event and shared several cases from the COP.

He shared of an inmate who was worried about the welfare of her aged parents from Marsiling Division due to her incarceration.

Both parents could not speak or read English and became worried whenever they received letters from the authorities.

A deep-seated fear of embarrassment of their plight kept them from seeking help from friends and relatives.

When the COP volunteers stepped in, both parents were relieved that they finally had someone whom they could rely on and trust.

In another case, an inmate's wife from Siglap Division had requested for academic support for her child and financial support for her utility bills.

With the help of Grassroots Advisors and COP volunteers, the child was referred to Yayasan Mendaki for tuition support and plans were made to assist the wife to manage her finances to reduce arrears.

Dr Maliki Osman, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of National Development and Mayor, South East District, was the architect behind the “We Care” Programme.

He shared how he leveraged on the grassroots in supporting families of inmates and how other stakeholders in the community were mobilised to complement the effort rendered.

“When I was an MP in Sembawang GRC, there was a sizeable number of family members of inmates who approached me during our weekly Meet-the-Peoples Session, and through these meetings the idea for the “We Care” programme took fruition,” shared Dr Maliki.

“Eventually, our grassroots set up a community directory, where we went door to door to find out the occupations of our residents. Through this, we set up a directory to establish a network of resources that our community can tap into,” elaborated Dr Maliki.

“Through this directory that we created, we found a resident who was a taxi driver and who was willing to ferry one of our residents who needed regular hospital check-ups. He did so free of charge. Additionally, we also found a resident who is a retired teacher to provide free tuition for children from a lower income gap,” said Dr Maliki. 

Mr Masagos Zulkifli addressing volunteers during the Community Outreach Project cum Networking Session. PHOTO: Haikal Jamari

Families of offenders and ex-offenders play important roles in the rehabilitation and reintegration process as they are a major source of motivation that helps them change their ways.

Additionally, families can also provide ex-offenders the financial and emotional support that these individuals need while they pick themselves up after their release from prison.

By enhancing the support given to families of offenders, the rate of recidivism may be reduced and intergenerational patterns of incarceration can be prevented.

The “We Care” Programme was the brainchild of Dr Maliki Osman and it was started in Admiralty Division in 2007 to provide community support and assistance to families of inmates through grassroots organisations.

Apart from providing support to families of incarcerated persons and stabilising families as they cope with the uncertainties arising from the incarceration of their loved ones, it also sends a message to the inmates that the community is proactively involved and they can focus solely on their rehabilitation and reintegration.

The success of “We Care” led to its expansion and adoption in other grassroots divisions, evolving into the Community Outreach Project (COP).

Under the COP, SPS identifies newly-admitted inmates for eligibility for COP based on their residential postal codes.

The inmates are then introduced to the COP through a letter sent to them from the Grassroots Advisors.

An inmate who agrees to participate will provide his consent to allow grassroots volunteers to visit his family to gather information on their needs.

Together with the assistance of their Grassroots Advisors, the families are linked to existing community support structures such as the Residents' Committees (RC), Family Service Centres (FSC) and Community Development Councils (CDC).

Additionally, the families of inmates are encouraged to attend the Meet-the-People Session (MPS) for any aid they need.

Since its start in 2012, the outreach of COP has extended from an initial eight participating GRC divisions to a total of 37 participating divisions today.

As of June 2012, more than 320 grassroots volunteers have undergone basic training to equip themselves with the required knowledge and skills to assist families of offenders and more than 400 families have been offered assistance through this programme.

Through such training, volunteers are equipped to have a better appreciation of the family dynamics of inmates.

They also acquire basic interviewing skills, make needs assessments, and gain an increased understanding of volunteerism in the aftercare context.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli had this parting message to all the volunteers present:

“I understand not every family in need may seek assistance that is available in the community, even after being contacted by the grassroots. But we must all take heart in knowng that every family we reach out to means that one more family knows exactly who to turn to for help in times of need.”

“Moving forward, COP hopes to extend its reach to more divisions, galvanising the support of even more volunteers to serve in this worthy cause of helping families in need. I am confident that with your concerted efforts, we will succeed in helping our inmates focus on their rehabilitation journey in prisons, while ensuring that they have a stable family to return to upon their release.”

Share this
 
back to top
   
 
More Volunteers:
 
HEARt of SINGAPORE: Pioneers pass on the hope
   
Home Team Volunteers: Clementi Police Division holds Change of Command Ceremony for their VSC Head
   
Home Team Volunteers: Championing the spirit of volunteerism
   
 
 
If you have a comment to share, please send it to us at news@hometeam.sg
 

 

Related Multimedia

  SPS Yellow Ribbon Prison Run, September 2012: Slideshow  
Related Articles
  Running on the Road to Acceptance
Related Department
Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise
Singapore Prison Service
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Also On This Site
 
Stepping up the combat against global crime
The INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) Handover Ceremony...
 
From land to sea: SCDF bolsters its maritime capabilities
On 29 September 2014, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean...
 
Behind the Uniform: Making time count
In the second installment of the Behind the Uniform series, we spoke...
 
Fun with games of yesteryears
It was just 9.30 am but Tampines West Community Club was already...

     
Terms and Conditions | Privacy Statement   Copyright © 2014 Ministry of Home Affairs. All Rights Reserved