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Call to find more ways to help needy

Social service groups, govt agencies, others urged to better pool resources
The Straits Times - May 22, 2014
By: Priscilla Goy
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Call to find more ways to help needy

SOCIAL service providers, companies, academics and government agencies should find more ways to work together.

Such partnerships play an important role in making sure beneficiaries get the help they need, said Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Such collaborations could even lead to new ideas of how services are delivered or how centres are designed, he added, especially given Singapore's changing realities, such as smaller families, an ageing population, and more competition for jobs.

Speaking at the first Social Service Partners Conference yesterday, Mr Chan said: "We have much to do, much to do better and much to do together towards a caring Singapore."

He pointed out how somebody in need could require assistance from a host of agencies.

A low-income, odd-job labourer with children and debts to pay, for instance, would need help from the Housing Board, Education Ministry, family service centres and social service offices to help in housing, education, counselling and financial issues.

"All of you have diverse strengths... We want to tap on your capabilities to check our blind spots and generate new ideas," he told an audience of 800 including people from voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), government agencies, academics and companies.

The event at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre was held to discuss trends and directions in the sector, and explore how partnerships can be formed to better support the needy.

During a dialogue at the conference, National Council of Social Service president Hsieh Fu Hua revealed that the council was "revisiting its membership policy". It is considering including members who are not VWOs, such as profit-making social enterprises.

Mr Hsieh said there is increasingly a "blurring of edges" between the social and business sectors. With more diverse groups engaged in the social service sector, it is important for them to "also be part of our ecosystem".

Mr Yew Teng Leong, president of the Rainbow Centre which helps children with special needs, said partnerships were important.

"We can learn from each other and learn best practices... We can learn without making the same mistakes", and this would improve the charity's effectiveness in helping people, he said.

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