Singapore

Halimah visits charity with drop-in disability programme she suggested

The germ of an idea came from President Halimah Yacob several years ago, when she was a Minister of State.

Yesterday, she visited a charity that had brought it to fruition by opening up some of its eldercare centres after mealtimes, when the crowds of seniors have dwindled, to people with disabilities.

These centres allow the disabled to take part in social and recreational programmes in the community, so they will not be cooped up at home.

At the same time, their caregivers get a respite.

The facilities are offered for free, for a few hours a day and up to three days a week.

This drop-in disability programme for people aged 16 and older is offered at four of the 15 seniors activity centres run by Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Moral Charities.

It started in 2013, shortly after Madam Halimah suggested it to the charity, when she was Minister of State for Social and Family Development.

THK Moral Charities chairman Lee Kim Siang said: "She realised that children above 18 had nowhere to go after they graduate from special education schools. They are at home every day, and their family members could find it hard to cope."

Mr Lee was speaking during a visit by Madam Halimah to THK Indus Moral Care seniors activity centre in Tiong Bahru, which has yet to offer the disability programme.

Madam Halimah said: "There are certain peak and lull periods in the seniors activity centres, and the lull periods are when something more could be done."

She commended THK Moral Charities for its work and said it was a "major player in the social service sector".

It runs more than 60 programmes, two homes and 55 centres for different disadvantaged groups.

"THK Indus Moral Care has been around for 17 years... I see the senior citizens here with happy faces, which means they find the activities you provide meaningful," she said.

"We want our senior citizens to be independent and supported by their families but also to have community support that is accessible to them."

The centre serves 380 senior citizens living in Block 79, Indus Road - where it is located - as well as nearby blocks.

Mr Leong Tuck Soon, 93, who goes regularly to the centre, said he enjoyed speaking to Madam Halimah.

"We spoke in Malay. She is someone who is understanding and concerned about the people's welfare," he said.

Since she was sworn in as head of state on Sept 14, Madam Halimah has visited a centre run by the Association for Persons with Special Needs that prepares people with disabilities for employment and the National University Hospital to see how its healthcare workers are coping with the demands of Singapore's ageing population.

presidentHalimah Yacob