New shelter for ex-cons ‘a dream come true’
New Hope Community Services' new home has more room and better facilities
Life is very different for Mr Mohamed Salleh today.
The 60-year-old is happily married, has a job and recently got the keys to his flat. It is a far cry from the days when he was addicted to drugs and prison seemed like a second home.
Mr Salleh said: "Growing up, I was a very different person.
"I went into prison for the first time at about 18, and I've been in and out so many times I can no longer keep count with one hand."
Mr Salleh spoke yesterday at the official opening of the New Hope Community Services' (NHCS) shelter for male former offenders at 3 Spooner Road.
A general worker with NHCS, he credits the shelter, known as Transit Point - renamed from Shelter For Men-in-Crisis- for his turnaround.
He remembers the pain he felt in prison when his parents died.
He said: "I felt hopeless and stuck. I had no one to turn to, no one who would understand and everyone only knew how to judge people like me."
In 2012, he sought refuge for a few months at the New Hope shelter at its original location, a rental bungalow in Punggol.
The centre linked him up with a social worker, and he soon found a job as a general worker.
He said: "Now, I've been clean for five years, I am happily married, in a stable and meaningful job and recently just got the keys to my new flat."
Mr Salleh is one of around 900 people who have benefited from the homes provided by New Hope, which has two other shelters dedicated to families and individuals.
After 16 years at a rented location, Transit Point's new home was officially opened yesterday by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Home Affairs Amrin Amin.
He said: "What (former offenders) need is a strong ecosystem so they can have that support network so they can bounce back and rebuild their lives and rejoin society."
The previous location had room for about 20 residents.
New Hope's founder and chief executive officer, Pastor Andrew Khoo, said the new premises, which has room for 60 former convicts, is a "dream come true". It also has common spaces and better facilities, including a recreation hall with some exercise equipment.
Transit Point is funded by the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprise, a statutory board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and it also offers social services such as career counselling, a savings programme and long term housing support.