Fitrah befrienders needed to reintegrate Muslim ex-offenders
A new initiative by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) aims to get more people on board to help rehabilitate and reintegrate Muslim ex-offenders into society.
Based out of the En-Naeem Mosque in Hougang, the Family and Inmates Through-care Assistance Haven (Fitrah) programme provides services such as religious counselling.
It is a collaborative effort by the three M³ organisations - Muis, Mendaki and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council - together with the Home Affairs Ministry and the Singapore Prisons Service.
Launched last November, Fitrah - which currently has 155 religious counsellors - aims to also have 150 community befrienders by the end of this year.
These befrienders will conduct home visits, identify the needs of the families and refer them to the relevant agencies for social assistance if necessary.
Last month, 30 volunteers from the Al-Mukminin, Assyakirin and Maarof mosques, as well as Mendaki and grassroots organisations, underwent Yellow Ribbon Community Project training.
Speaking to the media at a fast-breaking event held yesterday by the Fitrah office for about 150 family members of inmates and ex-offenders at En-Naeem Mosque, Fitrah programme manager Ustaz Syahrin Mohd Salleh said its focus so far has been on helping those who are currently imprisoned.
"For ex-offenders, these community befrienders can act as new friends, so they will not feel alone as they try to reintegrate into society," he said.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin, who attended the fast-breaking event, said he hoped such initiatives could end the cycle of crime such as drug offences in the Malay/Muslim community.
Having more volunteers will also strengthen Fitrah's efforts in rehabilitating ex-offenders and reduce their chances of recidivism, said religious counsellor Ustaz Achik Ithnin, a former prisons officer.