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About 30 Singapore Democrats turned up at Blk 16 Marsiling Lane to pay a visit to the residents there on Saturday. The block consists of 2-room flats which house low-income residents who mainly rent their flats from the HDB.
Members broke up into pairs and went from house to house to speak with the residents as well as to conduct a survey to determine social conditions so that the party can draw up a plan of action to support them.
The response from the familes was enthusiastic, many of whom indicated that they voted for the SDP in the last elections.
A few residents indicated that they needed medical assistance. In one particular household, a family of three – husband, wife and 11-year-old child – are all going to IMH on a regular basis for treatment and checkups.
According to him, he has not been working due to his mental health. His feet were visibly swollen, but he didn’t want to go to the polyclinic for fear that he might be forcibly admitted to IMH. He had been warded so often he is afraid of being admitted into the hospital again.
He told us that he received some financial assistance from the Community Development Council and Family Services Centre. Dr Leong Yan Hoi, a member of the SDP’s Healthcare Advisory Panel has offered to see the man without charge.
One of our volunteers visited a household where a disturbed mother was reported to have threatened to throw her 6-month old infant down the block (left). The mother was admitted to IMH and the infant was being taken care of by friends.
Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, who is also a social worker, then visited the caregivers and is following up with them regarding the health of the child and mother.
During the visit, a 78-year-old lady stopped to talk to us at the void deck. She had just collected some tin food from a charitable organisation that was giving out the rations a few blocks away.
The sprightly old lady said that she received no financial aid from the Government as she was told that she has children who were working. She receives $350 from her two sons and pays $77 for her rent and conservancy fees. That leaves her less than $280 a month for her other basic needs. The SDP will look into supporting her with regular food items.
A donor had given us some food rations when he heard that we were conducting the house visits. We distributed these items to eight households.
Many of the residents were in clear need of support, socially and medically, and many of them were in neglect. The PAP’s policies towards the poor are harsh and they need to be addressed.
One of the participants, Fahim, said: “Those whom we spoke to provided a wealth of information about the problems they were facing and possible issues which can be brought into the political discourse for serious policy discussion.”
By conducting the visit and survey, the Singapore Democrats will gather data and in the process get a better idea of their needs which will help us to formulate our policies in combatting poverty at the national level.
We will look to conduct more home visits in the coming weeks.