Transcript of Speech by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Patron Teo Chee Hean at the Singapore Children's Society 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need And 1000 Philanthropists Appreciation Dinner on 23 March 2023.
Ladies and gentlemen,
And all of you, our generous sponsors,
I am pleased to join all of you here at the Singapore Children’s Society’s 1000 Enterprises for Children-in-Need and 1000 Philanthropists Appreciation Dinner.
Taking Care of Our Children and Youths
Singapore Children’s Society was established in 1952 to protect and nurture children and youth of all races and religions. Over the past 71 years, it has evolved and adapted to the changing needs of our children and youth, including through the challenges of COVID-19 in these last few very difficult years. Our children are our future, and we want to make sure that we do the very best for each and every child. And our children have become even more precious because in 1952, our total fertility rate was many, many times more than our fertility rate is today. So, every child is precious. To look after every child, we need many helping hands. This is where our social welfare organisations like Singapore Children’s Society have a very important role, and they complement the role of the Government by providing special and targeted support to specific groups or individuals in our society. But more importantly, there is a fundamental difference between government taking action and voluntary groups – supported by volunteers, supported by generous donors from the public – taking action. It is quite different because you bring your care and concern into every action that is taken by organisations like the Singapore Children’s Society. The work of organisations like the Singapore Children’s Society, and the generosity of people like yourself, make a real difference to the social glue that we have in Singapore today. You show our children, youth and families in need that we care for them, we want them to do well, and no one will get left behind. They know that they mean something to you. This gives them the strength and confidence to rebuild themselves and to do better, and makes us a more united, caring and inclusive society.
In the past three years, many amongst us had to deal with new pressures and stresses brought about by COVID-19. This has brought greater attention to the issue of mental well-being, including among our children, youth and their families. To meet the growing need for mental health services, I am glad that Singapore Children’s Society has set up Oasis for Minds Services to provide a continuum of services from mental health promotion, accessible early intervention to recovery-focused services. The Society has also developed a Mental Health Awareness and Literacy programme that will be delivered in schools and the community. These services will help our children in need to develop positively and grow up in a safe and inclusive community.
Government Doing Our Part
The Government will continue to support organisations like the Singapore Children’s Society. To recognise the important work that you are doing, we have designated 2023 as the Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners. As our social needs continue to evolve, our social welfare organisations will also need continued access to financial support. I am happy that the Tote Board has committed around $846 million to the Tote Board Social Service Fund for the next five years, as announced by Minister for Social and Family Development at this year’s budget. This is the Tote Board’s largest commitment since the inception of the Fund, and will complement the Government’s funding of about $400 million a year. NCSS will also roll out new schemes under the Community Capability Trust to help our social welfare organisations to build capabilities to better attract, engage, train and retain volunteers. All these efforts will help our social welfare organisations to strengthen your professionalism and capabilities to better serve our community.
Support from Donors
I am heartened that our enterprises and philanthropists have continued to donate generously to Singapore Children’s Society to support its meaningful initiatives, even throughout the pandemic during the last three years. Just after the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, Choon Hui and Kurt came to me. They said, we are going to have a problem because we do not know whether our donors will be as generous and we cannot stop providing services. Indeed, for a social welfare organisation, it is a big challenge, because it is at those times – when the economy is bad, when families have lost jobs, when parents and families are under stress – that you need these services even more. It is counter-cyclical in a way. So Mr Koh and Kurt came up with this idea of 1000 Enterprises to reach out to various enterprises, to ask them to please come out to help us, to donate what you can but try to do it on a consistent basis, year after year. And every cent, every dollar that you donate adds up. Five years later, after the success of 1000 Enterprises, we started 1000 Philanthropists and you can see the outcome today. Your generosity, your help and every dollar added up together comes up to a very handsome sum, which helps the Singapore Children’s Society carry out all the good work they have done. This programme came through during a difficult time with COVID as well, and provided the Society with resources that we needed for our children and families during a very, very difficult time over these past few years. So I want to say a very big thank you to all of you.
Finally, I would like to thank Chairman of Singapore Children’s Society Mr. Koh Choon Hui, and all our board members, volunteers, management and staff, especially our social workers, counsellors and care staff, for working tirelessly to bring relief and happiness to the beneficiaries under your care. With the continued support of our generous donors, I am confident that Singapore Children’s Society will continue to bring hope and smiles to many more children, youth and families.
So today, please open your hearts and open your wallets as well to help the Children’s Society. I wish all of you a very enjoyable evening. Thank you very much.
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