With the recent border lockdown by the Malaysian government beginning 18 March till the end of the month, some Malaysian workers have been seen sleeping at MRT stations and public spaces which has inspired a group of churches in Singapore to form a “Home Away from Home” project to answer the call to action and help provide shelter for them.
After the movement control order was announced in Malaysia, thousands of Malaysians have decided to make it across to Singapore before the lockdown took effect, in reason of they do not want to disrupt their work and income.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on 17 March that over 10,000 Malaysians have managed to secure accommodation in Singapore. However, there are still an estimated 100,000 Malaysian workers who have no living arrangements in the country.
Ms Teo remarked that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) “has been working with tripartite partners to support the affected companies” in finding “suitable accommodation” for their workers who may be subject to Malaysia’s movement control order.
Consequently, some Malaysian workers who are unable to afford temporary accommodation had no choice but to sleep in public spaces such as in parks, MRT stations, or under bridges.
Following that, New Hope Community Services (NHCS) shared on Facebook earlier today (20 March) about the “Home Away from Home” – a project to love COVID-19 rough sleepers – that aimed to seek out affected Malaysian workers who are rough-sleeping in public areas and help provide shelter for them.
According to NHCS, “Home Away from Home” is a collective effort that was formed by a group of Singapore churches – Church of Our Saviour, 3:16 Church and Victory Family Centre – and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) – NHCS and TOUCH International.
NHCS said the former Queenstown Polyclinic located at 51 Margaret Drive has been designated by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to be a shelter for the homeless and rough sleepers, and now is run by NHCS.
“To help in this COVID-19 crisis, NHCS has kindly opened this brand-new facility to stranded Malaysian, Singaporean & PR workers,” it wrote.
Other than NHCS, the project was also linked up with other shelters under the LoveSingapore umbrella, namely, Living Sanctuary Brethren Church’s BCARE, Covenant EFC Woodlands, and CPT Training and Camp Centre. These networks provide “Home Away from Home” more options to house affected workers closer to their convenience.
“We plan to provide this temporary shelter till 31 March 2020, unless changing circumstances cause an extension to this project’s duration,” NHCS stated.
NHCS also urged the people to volunteer in the project as the group requires manpower to assist in daily operations like contact canvassing and on-site operations. Those who wish to volunteer are required to fill in the Volunteer Application Form.
NHCS also listed the practical essentials that can be donated by the people, including bottled water, mattresses, pillows, biscuits, instant/cup noodles, toilet paper rolls, bath towels, hand sanitizers, and others.
For those who are willing to donate the items are required to bring their items to Transit Point at Margaret Drive which will open from 9am to 7pm, or contact Audrey Tang at [email protected].
[UPDATE] – Saturday 21st March, 3.45pm
According to Audrey Tang from the Church of Our Saviour’s Programs Department, the project team started canvassing at Kranji MRT station on Thursday night (19 March), and they managed to house a total of 10 people on Friday night (20 March).
Ms Tang added they are expecting to house more people later on.