A research has shown that one in seven Singaporeans are working from 11 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. and these night shift workers' contributions to Singapore’s socio-economics are often forgotten.
A survey was conducted in January 2016 to find out more about the attitudes of young adults towards night shift workers. A total of 315 responses were garnered from 18-25-year-olds. While 78% of respondents thought that these 24-hour establishments were necessary for our society to function effectively, 85% believed that nightshift workers who support such social infrastructure do not receive enough appreciation in Singapore.
With this in mind, four students - Ng Yuin Yi, Charissa Kow, Cheryl Teng and Dipshikha Ghosh from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) conceptualised "Strangers of the Night" as part of their public awareness and informational campaign.
In collaboration with the Singapore Kindness Movement, National Youth Council and The Hidden Good, the campaign seeks to champion the appreciation of night shift workers, and to inject graciousness into Singapore’s society.
The inaugural Gratitude Marathon was launched on the night of 25 February and covered multiple locations across the island. This was part of a student-led initiative where 30 university students travelled across Singapore to show appreciation to approximately 300 nightshift workers from Tan Tock Seng Hospital to Changi Airport, covering other night-time establishments like Mustafa Centre and Swee Choon.
Care kits containing sleep supplements and healthy snacks were distributed to nurses, security personnel, airport staff and restaurant workers along with gratitude cards written by more than 300 university students. Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement was also present to show his support for the event.
“Night shift staffs have so many different challenges such as long 12 hour shifts but I think tonight, many people are going to go away feeling appreciated, valued, feeling that whatever they do has not gone unnoticed. We are proud to support Strangers of the Night.” said Dr Wan.
One of the participants, Cheng Zheng Yang, 23, commented, “The marathon was an eye-opening experience for me as we did not realize how tough the night shift is till we put ourselves in the shoes of a night shift worker. Some eat dinner at 12am while others work 16-hour shifts throughout the night. This is a very meaningful event and cause.”
In line with Kindness Day SG, the next Gratitude Marathon will take place in May and will be open to the public. The Hidden Good also has plans to sustain the event with a youth committee.
Strangers of the Night will also be launching their photo exhibition at *SCAPE on 21st March. The exhibition comprises a series of photos that documents night workers in action, as they help build and sustain Singapore's social infrastructure whilst the nation is sound asleep. From food vendors to night bus captains, these images shed light on the lives of those who toil from dusk to dawn.