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More targeted social services for Punggol residents

Punggol residents can now get more targeted social services -- ranging from parenting education programmes to counselling for marital issues -- at a Family Service Centre at Punggol Drive. 

SINGAPORE: Punggol residents can now get more targeted social services -- ranging from parenting education programmes to counselling for marital issues -- at a Family Service Centre at Punggol Drive. 

The centre started operations in October 2013 after having operated in temporary premises for about one year.

Since then, it has seen more than 600 cases, including those who sought help for financial and marital issues. It also provides services such as counselling and support programmes, ranging from workshops to support groups.

Married life was not always a bed of roses for 32-year-old Jason Lee Yen Chong.

He had regular quarrels with his wife in the early years of their marriage.

When one of the fights landed the couple in a police station, he knew it was time to seek help.

He approached the Punggol Family Service Centre, where they received counselling and took part in trust-building activities.

Jason Lee said: "After the whole counselling, my wife and I gained a better mutual understanding.

"Even in decision-making, my wife and I will consult one another before making the decisions for almost everything at home. In the past, I'll do my own decision-making and she'll do her own."

To get a better idea of needs on the ground, the centre conducted a survey of 440 households on the profile and concerns of the community.

Results confirmed that Punggol is a young estate.

It found that almost 30 per cent of Punggol's total population of 881,000 are below the age of 21. Of these, 50 per cent are of pre-school age.

Overall, residents were most concerned about issues of housing, finance, health and family.

Based on the findings, the team sees a need for adequate childcare and student care services, as well as parenting education.

Yum Sin Ting, head of the Punggol Family Service Centre and AMKFSC Community Services, said: "We are looking at also enhancing our parenting programme so that we can further support these families, so that they will also be able to help their children and take a more proactive stance in their children's development."

"We are also looking into developing our marital programmes, couple-enhancement programmes because we also realised that there are a lot of young couples.

"They will find that it will be beneficial for them to be able to build up their relationship and communication."

The survey also found that 47 per cent of households comprise extended families and 32 per cent are nuclear families.

Eight per cent of households report monthly household income above S$10,000, compared with the national average of 32 per cent.
The centre said it also aims to complement the work of the Social Service Office (SSO) in Sengkang when it is set up by next month.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said: "We wanted to bring in the SSO and the FSC early into the community, to grow with the community, to prevent and pre-empt issues from emerging in the community, and last but not least to make sure that we mobilise the community resources together.

"The SSO is a catalyst to bring together the community partners to... help the community.
They will also deal with the more straightforward financial assistance cases.

"The FSC, with its distinct group of social workers and social work professionals, will be able to provide dedicated help to the community for those families who are already in need or who are already facing issues."

With the opening of the Punggol branch, there are now more than 40 Family Service Centres in Singapore. The Ministry of Social and Family Development said more centres are being planned. 

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