A collective effort to build a more inclusive and cohesive Singapore
Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Communications and Information, at Lutheran Community Care Services (LCCS) Charity Golf 2019, at The Singapore Island Country Club
02 August 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. It’s my pleasure to join you at the Lutheran Community Care Services (LCCS) Charity Golf 2019.
This evening is significant as it marks the Charity Golf’s tenth anniversary. The theme of this year’s event is “Building Connected Communities”. The importance of community and connection could not be more evident in today’s world – one that is dynamic and complex, with globalisation and technological advancements affecting how we live, work and play. Such changes throw new challenges at us, but also present fresh opportunities for us to strengthen our bonds as communities, and as a nation.
We have a shared responsibility to look out for those among us who are going through difficult circumstances or may be more vulnerable. When these individuals or groups feel valued and supported, they are better able to bounce back and re-integrate into their communities. As such, I am grateful for social service agencies such as LCCS, who help provide support for individuals and families in need.
A strong society looks out for those in need
LCCS has kick-started numerous projects to facilitate the restorative processes between individuals and communities. Often, relationships suffer due to lack of open conversation, or misunderstandings. As such, the Restorative Practices applied by LCCS can help to deepen mutual empathy and appreciation through better dialogue. Project Restore, for example, is an initiative that started as a partnership between LCCS and the State Courts in 2018. It aims to divert community disputes from the criminal justice process and offer an alternative to bring people together and mend relationships. LCCS has also held restorative conferences and circles in schools, the Singapore Prisons, and other institutions.
I am encouraged by community partners such as LCCS who proactively step forward to help restore relationships within the community. Another example of such initiatives is the series of kayaking camps run by Pertapis Halfway House, currently supported by MCCY’s Our Singapore Fund – SG Cares (OSF-SG Cares) fund. As part of its rehabilitative programme for former drug offenders, residents of Pertapis undertake a kayaking course, and use their newly obtained skills to teach their family members to kayak. As we come together to connect individuals back to society, we are strengthening community bonds and our culture of care.
Our collective effort in building a more inclusive and cohesive Singapore
This is the spirit of Singapore Cares (or SG Cares). A more caring home requires all of us – donors, volunteers, community organisations and government agencies, to come together. Last year, LCCS caseworkers worked with various community stakeholders, including the Town Council, Resident Committee, and Singapore Police Force, to help resolve rising tensions between neighbours in an estate due to noises occurring during the evenings and mornings. After engaging the families individually, LCCS convened a Peace-making Circle where residents had the opportunity to share their feelings openly, and give and receive feedback. Participants highlighted how this allowed everyone to feel safe, and was a positive experience overall. Also, following this process, noise levels were observed to have reduced greatly.
I am also glad to hear that while the restorative interventions by LCCS have traditionally been facilitated by trained staff, this is the first year LCCS has ventured into training volunteers! Volunteers widen the circle of support for vulnerable individuals and families, and act as advocates for important causes. And now, those eager to strengthen community relationships can be equipped to be facilitators in restorative circles. To date, LCCS has trained 30 volunteers, and I encourage many more to step up. As we work together to promote greater ownership in the community, we also will foster a deeper sense of belonging and inclusion.
Finally, I would also like to commend the LCCS team, as well as all donors, sponsors and volunteers, for their valuable contributions, and for making tonight possible. Thank you, and I wish you all an enjoyable evening ahead.