“CAN WE GIVE them more money?”
“Do we give them our mobile phone numbers?”
“Can we accompany them to see the doctor?”
These were among the questions raised by a group of about 30 people gathered at Wesley Methodist Church in April at a briefing session on befriending chronically poor families.
The briefing was one of a series organised for the Befrienders who signed up for the Community Outreach Project, a major programme of the 125th Anniversary celebration of The Methodist Church in Singapore, which aims to bless the chronically poor in Singapore – those who subsist on an average per capita income of $350 a month.
Those who turned up at the two-hour-long session were given a thorough briefing on the role of the Befriender, his or her responsibilities and how to define “boundaries”, i.e. appropriate behaviour and attitudes when relating to the families they visit.
Questions relating to safety, frequency and timing of visits and accountability were answered and doubts clarified.
Befrienders were also assured that they can check with the counsellor or social worker looking after the families if they come across any diﬃcult situation.
“You need to be mindful that the families you visit may already feel inferior to you since you are the one giving them the funds, so do try to approach them cordially and with respect as fellow human beings,” said Mr Alvin Goh, Manager of Service Planning and Development at the Methodist Welfare Services, which is taking charge of the Community Outreach Project.
Each Befriender was given an informative handbook, Guide to Befriending and Home Visits, which contains more details on how to make their home visits a meaningful experience, both for the Befriender and for the family.
Ms Anna Lee, a Befriender, said: “I found out many things that I did not know about the poor, like why they prefer odd jobs to a full-time job. I realised from the briefing that after deducting CPF and factoring in other expenses, they could make more from odd jobs.”
The MCS 125th Community Outreach Project still needs at least 1,600 Befrienders to reach out to poor and needy families. Sign up today at www. mws.org.sg if you wish to help make a diﬀerence to the lives of these people.
Answering the call
THEY CAME, they heard and they answered.
It was no easy commitment to make. But nearly 400 Methodists so far have gamely signed up as Befrienders, to visit chronically poor families, every month for 12 months to bless them with $125 from the Methodist Community.
More than 10 briefing sessions have been held in various Methodist Churches and many more are being planned.