Singapore

Second Step-Up Centre for drug abusers opens in Taman Jurong

Step-Up Centre in Taman Jurong enables Sana to reach out to those in western Singapore

Technician Zulkifli Atan started smoking in his early teens, then he moved on to marijuana and eventually heroin.

The 46-year-old is trying to kick the habit, and for the past six months, he has been attending counselling sessions at the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association's (Sana) Step-Up Centre in Taman Jurong, which began operations in January and was officially opened yesterday.

It was set up following the success of Sana's first centre in Sengkang, which opened in 2016 and has since helped more than 1,500 walk-in clients and their family members.

Mr Zulkifli has never missed a session, according to his counsellor, and is making good progress.

"At least I have someone to talk to," he said. "We (ex-offenders) also have to do our part."

The guitarist and singer has even started a band with other clients and teaches them how to play instruments as a coping strategy.

The Step-Up Centres provide reintegration programmes and services to former drug abusers, people at risk of drug abuse and their families.

The services include peer support counselling and financial and employment assistance, with the centre staffed by full-time and volunteer counsellors.

All services at the centres are free except for tattoo removal, which is heavily subsidised.

Taman Jurong was selected for the second location as a sizeable number of Sana's clients live in western and northern Singapore.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, who officiated the centre's opening, said it will serve residents in Jurong as a start and will progressively cover other areas in the western part of Singapore. In fact, Sana is already getting walk-in clients who live in Boon Lay, Bukit Panjang and Clementi.

In a speech, Mr Amrin said Step Up @ Taman Jurong has seen close to 100 walk-in clients since it opened in January.

They comprise recovering drug abusers and their families who require reintegration support, as well as youth seeking information on drug abuse.

Mr Abdul Karim, executive director of Sana, said: "Step-Up @ Taman Jurong is an excellent model to reach out to ex-drug abusers and their families due to its location and operating hours in the evening."

The centre shares its premises with organisations such as Fei Yue Family Service Centre and the Social Service Office, which Sana partners.

Sana client Rahman Abdul Majeed, 42, who lives in Taman Jurong, has been undergoing counselling as well as financial and job assistance. Although he has won "best employee" awards in previous jobs, he still faces the stigma of being an ex-convict. He said: "Some (employers) cannot trust us."

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