OCBC launches first-of-its-kind social uplift programme to help low-income families
Singapore, 22 May 2023 – OCBC has partnered the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to introduce a first-of-its-kind social uplift programme to proactively provide targeted help to 100 lower-income families with children living in rental flats. This robust and holistic programme will see 200 OCBC staff volunteers contributing an estimated 10,000 volunteering hours over 12 months not just to understand the predicament of these families, but also recommend and implement suitable solutions. Volunteers will work in pairs and are assigned to specific families in helping them achieve stability in meeting basic needs, self-reliance to support themselves and social mobility to transition out of their existing situations.
The “Families100 Programme by OCBC”, in support of MSF’s Community Link (Comlink), will go beyond providing financial support. Other forms of assistance include providing access to sports and creative-centric avenues to help children and youths pursue their interest and to motivate them to continue with their academic journey. Volunteers can coach parents to be financially-savvy to better meet their loved ones’ needs. For breadwinners seeking career progression, volunteers will provide guidance on attending the right courses and applying for suitable grants to upskill and improve employability. As OCBC staff volunteers connect with the families on a deeper level, they will be better able to spot gaps and set the families on the right course.
The Families100 programme by OCBC was launched by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, and Ms Helen Wong, OCBC Group CEO, on 22 May 2023 at the Singapore Sports Hub.
Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration, said: “We are appreciative of corporate partners like OCBC that tap into their organisations’ assets, expertise and networks to enhance opportunities for lower-income families. These are invaluable efforts, and in recognition of this, 2023 has been dedicated as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners (YCPartners). Together, we can uplift families and build a more caring and inclusive Singapore.”
The number 100 in the name is not just the number of families that OCBC will be helping, but also refers to the families reaching their own version of 100%.
These families, identified by MSF, are from its three newest Commlink communities: Queenstown, Clementi and Jurong East. They have indicated a willingness to strive for a better future. OCBC staff volunteers, grouped into pairs and supported by a ComLink officer, will be assigned to each family. Once the matching is completed, the pair of volunteers and the family will kick-start the 12-month programme to work towards holistic improvements.
The volunteers have started the process of engaging 22 families and the remaining 78 families will be progressively matched with OCBC staff volunteers over the next three months.
Addressing the gap in long-term support for low-income families
This partnership is timely given MSF’s call to action, earlier in March, that more long-term volunteers are needed to address the needs of families with children living in rental flats. The Families100 Programme by OCBC involving long-term commitment and proactive support from OCBC staff volunteers is a first from the private sector. The 12-month period provides sufficient time for families to build momentum and take concrete steps to continue on their own after that.
Ms Helen Wong, Group Chief Executive Officer of OCBC Bank, shared: “When we were discussing the Families100 Programme by OCBC with MSF, we were intrigued as the idea fits the bill of our #OCBCCares programme which is to go beyond financial support in helping lower- income families. This programme seeks to understand their needs better and help address gaps. Only through this way can we truly help to uplift these families. We are not there to only teach money management. Whether to help prepare the parent for a job interview, to find and sign up for upskilling courses, to obtain a driving license to work as a taxi driver, to guide the child in school work or to enable the child to pursue his or her interest in a sport or art as a motivation to study, OCBC staff will be there with the family over 12 months. I want to thank the team at MSF for a great partnership with a common purpose and commitment to help families with what they truly need.”
Strong Support and readiness of OCBC Staff Volunteers
To prepare for meaningful engagement with the 100 families, OCBC staff volunteers underwent the required training programme conducted by MSF. During the monthly home visits, they will be accompanied by a ComLink officer and will work closely together to address the underlying issues faced by the families and nudge them to progressively make sustainable changes over the year.
Response from OCBC staff volunteers has been positive. These volunteers come from various backgrounds, ranging from software engineers, data analysts, lawyers to relationship managers. Most of the volunteers have prior volunteering experience and are prepared to do more.
Mr Gaurav Babar, a OCBC staff volunteer, said: “I love that our commitment goes beyond mere financial assistance. From the training conducted by MSF, I have become more aware of the sensitivities and challenges when it comes to dealing with these families. My teammate and I are looking forward to this journey with our assigned family. We want to contribute meaningfully to lasting improvement for both the parents and their children over the 12-month period.”