A Facebook post has been circulating about a member of public’s encounter on the train with an elderly woman who works as a cleaner. The elderly woman was quoted as saying that she was seeking additional employment to earn a living.

Background to elderly woman’s situation

The Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Social Service Office (SSO) has identified the elderly woman, Mdm L. She is staying in a five-room flat with her son’s family. The family has a domestic helper. Her son provides her with food and shelter but she works to supplement her other expenses. SSO officers visited her to see if she needed any help and how she can be supported.

Government records show that Mdm L is a permanent resident, and she has not applied for citizenship in the past. Prior to the COVID-19 circuit breaker, Mdm L received a monthly gross salary of about $1,300 (excluding CPF) from her employer. Due to reduced business volume, her employer had arranged for her and other full-time employees to work part-time as a way to retain staff.  She is currently paid $675 for working part-time in 4-hour shifts (or about $6.50/hr). MSF understands from her employer that when business improves, they will review and reinstate the cleaners’ part-time employment to full-time.

Support for Mdm L

To mitigate the impact of Mdm L’s wage loss during this difficult period, MSF is assessing her eligibility for the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG), which provides monthly payouts of $500 - $800.

As a non-citizen, she does not qualify for Silver Support or Workfare. However, she receives benefits like the Solidarity Payment that are also extended to PRs.  In addition, she will be supported in other ways. Grassroots organisations will support her with $120 food vouchers monthly for the next six months.  MSF is also arranging for her to get some help for her medical expenses.

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has verified that Mdm L’s elder son, a regular warrant officer, died during a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) freefall training session in South Africa, in May 2009. Full compensation was paid out to his family. MINDEF and the SAF extend their deepest condolences to the family.

How you can help

Building an inclusive and a caring society is a collective effort. MSF appreciates the effort of members of the public in reaching out to those who seem to be in need.  However, posting and sharing their circumstances on social media may lead to further distress for these vulnerable groups of people and their families. Such posts may not correctly reflect the circumstances of vulnerable groups of people, who may be elderly, or may not share all the details accurately because of the stressors they are facing.

Members of the public are encouraged to link them up directly with MSF through the SSOs or any Family Service Centre. In the case of Mdm L, she indicated she was unaware of being photographed or that her comments and photo would be shared in public on social media.

ComCare Call: 1800-222-0000

SSO locator: www.msf.gov.sg/ssolocator

Family Service Centre locator: www.msf.gov.sg/fsclocator 

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