Outreach, Welfare

New shelter for girls all set to open its doors

RESIDENCE @ ST. GEORGE’S (RSG), a girls’ hostel for those aged 16 to 21 years, is ready to open its doors to female delinquents. A joint effort by Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) and the General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (GC-WSCS), it aims to fill a need for hostels for female youth-at-risk in that age range, as existing hostels for girls-at-risk are targeted at younger offenders. Taking over the compound previously occupied by MWS’ first centre, the Home for the Aged Sick, RSG is able to house up to 30 girls who are under probation orders from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) to reside in an institution. Residents assigned there would have been on the wrong side of law and be experiencing weak family support, among other criteria.

Guests such as the Singapore Police Force were invited to a visit of the hostel in February this year.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, and a Member of Parliament for the Moulmein-Kallang Group Representation Constituency (Kolam Ayer), also paid RSG a visit, together with several Residents’ Committee members and grassroots leaders.

On a separate visit, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon said a prayer for the staff and all who would be entering the hostel. He said he was glad that more people are receiving help, especially with the expansion of services provided to the younger generation in Singapore.

A concerted effort to rehabilitate the girls
It has taken almost a year to transform the old building at St. George’s Lane to a new and welcoming place for female delinquents. From renovations to getting the licence approved by the MCYS, the team has worked hard to ensure that RSG could begin operations in 2012.

The MCYS has been working closely with the team to ensure that the hostel’s living conditions are adequate and appropriate. Most importantly, the hostel has to be safe and secure, both for the community and the teens.

According to Ms Bernadette Alexander, Chief Probation Officer of the Probation Services Branch (PSB) at the MCYS, “the structured environment in the hostel would help these offenders cultivate discipline, responsibility and independent living”.

But more than just providing a roof over their heads, RSG also aims to be a positive influence in the lives of the female youth-at-risk. In the words of Ms Dorothy Lim, President of GC-WSCS, RSG will be “a real ‘home’ where the girls can heal, be nurtured and leave a transformed person”.

Many have shown their support for RSG, even before it began operations. Some companies have kindly donated furniture and other necessities.

Mrs Janie Tan, a strong supporter of charitable causes for needy children both locally and internationally, has donated $50,000 to the hostel. She had set up the JL (Jesus Loves) Children Fund to help disadvantaged children and has already sponsored some less fortunate children from MWS with annual bursary awards. Mrs Tan said that as she had been blessed by the Lord, she wanted to share His blessings with the young.

Ms Lydia Sng, Chairman of the Centre Governance Committee of the hostel, shared: “There were some challenges over the course of setting up the hostel, but we are proud to be able to see its vision come to life. I am sure RSG can be a haven for these troubled girls to get back on the right track.”

Mrs Jenny Bong, MWS Group Executive Director, is happy that in setting up the hostel, MWS is able to meet a social service gap. She added: “Besides working with the girls, we will be helping the girls build and rebuild their relationships with their families. Each girl is likely to spend only a year with us, so it is important that she be connected back to her family.”

The MCYS recognised that MWS is well-equipped to handle the management of the hostel. Ms Alexander said: “There is a fit between the Probation Services Branch and MWS’ mission to address prevailing social needs and touch lives, so we look forward to the partnership with MWS and the GC-WSCS to transform the lives of our female youth offenders aged 16 to 21 years.”

If you would like to donate to RSG or give your time as a volunteer (females only), please email the hostel at admin@stgeorges.mws.org.sg or call the MWS office at 6478-4700.

Michelle Tan is the Senior Executive (Communications) of Methodist Welfare Services.