How Can We Help Them?

Family with Chronic Illness and Mounting Arrears

Sam*, 59, was certified as permanently unable to work due to Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with 12 years ago. He had been given custody of his 5-year old son in 2002 after his marriage broke down due to his wife's extramarital affair. Over the years, Sam's sisters helped him in the raising of his son.

Today, Sam is at stage 4 of Parkinson's disease and unable to perform his basic functions without help from a sister -- his main caregiver. His widowed sister who is 8 years his senior, also has financial constraints and has begun to show signs of caregiver stress. Although his 3-room HDB flat is fully paid for, the family still has household expenses of $1,100 every month, of which Sam's 'income' of $500 -- which comes from the financial assistance provided by the Community Development Council -- is insufficient to cover. This has resulted in a monthly shortfall of $600 for the family.

While a social worker is in the midst of arranging for care-giving support for Sam through a local hospital, and also arrange for free meal delivery services for the family, the family will still need to rely on a combination of community support services and face some arrears till Sam's son completes his studies and National Service, and is able to find a job.

Vulnerable Family due to Father's Abandonment and Bankruptcy

Pam*, 49, was made a bankrupt in 2011 as she was named guarantor to her husband's failed business. He had been missing since, leaving his wife and three teenage children on their own.

Resilient and unwilling to surrender to her circumstances, homemaker Pam found work initially as a food stall helper. Her 'past' as a certified bankrupt limited her job options.

In seeking help from a family service centre, Pam's three children received financial support through the School Pocket Money Fund and MOE financial assistance schemes, with her eldest child being awarded a MILK scholarship for a polytechnic course. Pam also receives support from the Social Service Office. However, the financial assistance of $330 a month is a short term arrangement, renewable every 3 to 6 months.

Pam managed to find a better job as a junior chef which pays $1,600 a month before CPF. After deducting all the family's household expenses, she is left with $50 a month for any emergency spending on her children who are now at Poly, ITE and secondary levels.

While Pam dutifully pays all her household expenses on time, she still has the bankruptcy debt to pay off which amounts to some $12,000, which she pays at a rate of $50 per month over the next 20 years. The family has little savings for emergency situations.

* Names have been changed

Jubilee - A New Beginning! seeks to give poor and vulnerable families a new hope and fresh beginning through financial assistance to help 'cancel' their household arrears and volunteer befriending support through the training and matching of volunteers to such families.