BY THE END OF THIS YEAR, the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), in partnership with the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (GC WSCS), will be operating a brand new service – the first of its kind in Singapore. It will be a hostel which will cater to troubled teen girls aged between 16 and 21. At present, the homes available take in girls below 16 years only.
Issues related to youth-at-risk are receiving more attention in Singapore, with the Government recently putting aside $2.3 million to help them re-integrate back into society.*
While the total number of juvenile cases placed on probation has fallen since 2007, that of female cases has increased since 2008. Male cases, however, saw a decline of 11 per cent from 2008.
Giving the girls a second chance
After almost five years of planning, the GC WSCS’s vision to provide a hostel for young women, at St George’s Lane, is finally coming to fruition.
When ready, the hostel will be able to accommodate up to 30 girls, who will mostly be mandated by the courts, after having been found to have committed some misdemeanours. As their home environments (lack of parental supervision, broken homes, etc) are not conducive to rehabilitation, the girls are required to stay at the hostel for up to a year. They are also placed on probation and will have a probation oﬃcer working with the social workers at the hostel.
Ms Dorothy Lim, President of the GC WSCS, believes that there is synergy between the vision of the GC WSCS and the hostel. “These girls have made some mistakes in the past but the courts want to give them a second chance. We are very excited about the hostel project and I thank God for raising up the governing committee who are all very committed to this. They want to provide a real ‘home’ where the girls can heal, be nurtured and leave a transformed person.”
Recognising that troubled teenage girls is a challenging group to manage, the hostel will have in place programmes and activities that will help motivate and equip the girls for a brighter future when they leave.
An architect’s impression of the hostel to be built at St George’s Lane.
“Life skills like IT courses, grooming and hairdressing programmes could be included to give the girls a chance at gainful employment,” said Ms Lim. “Professionals at the hostel will provide one-to-one counselling needs. On our part, our GC WSCS women are aiming to be good role models and mentors to them. However, this is a diﬀerent ministry so we will need to train our volunteers so that they will be prepared for the task.”
The 6,300-sq ft building at St George’s Lane will have a conducive environment where the girls can feel safe and assured and above all, be part of a community that cares for them and their well-being.
Ms Evelyn Quek, head of the hostel, said: “The design and layout of the hostel will provide structured spaces for rest, study and work, reflection and recreation, so that the girls can have a sense of routine and stability. The décor will be warm and welcoming, and there will be safety and security features as well. ”
Ms Jenny Bong, Group Executive Director of the MWS, said that the project is a timely and excellent opportunity to make a significant diﬀerence in the lives of the girls, while at the same time recognising the challenges.
She added: “We have to work hard to gain their trust as these are older teens, and we need to find creative ways to motivate them. However, they are seeking for values to adopt and are still evaluating their philosophy of life. We believe they are still open and we can influence them through building sincere and meaningful relationships with them.”
If you would like to donate to the hostel or give your time as a volunteer, please contact: Ms Evelyn Quek at firstname.lastname@example.org
*8 March 2011, Asia One
Pearl Lee is the Group Director, Communications & Fund-Raising, of the Methodist Welfare Services.