10 family service centres offer support services and counselling for relationship issues

SINGAPORE – Ten family service centres will offer specialised services pooling support schemes that address issues related to marriage, finances and parenting in a bid to strengthen families.

Launched on Tuesday (Nov 9), the Strengthening Families Programme @ Family Service Centre (FAM @ FSC) programme brings together existing marriage and divorce support services, and introduces a new family counselling service for relationship issues.

FAM @ FSCs will bring together professionals trained in family counselling, financial counselling and psychology, who will work closely with the family service centres and social service offices to address complex cases.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling noted the importance of improving the resilience of families in the light of issues brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is not uncommon for families to face challenges and conflicts in their relationships. But relationships do not break down overnight. We can and must start early to mend the cracks and fissures in relationships as soon as they begin to surface, rather than allow them to fester and snowball.”

Ms Sun said the National Care Hotline has received about 50,000 calls since it was set up in April last year.

Meanwhile, the National Anti-Violence Helpline, which began operating in January, has received more than 5,300 calls.

Ms Sun said first responders on the helplines triage the calls and refer those who need case management services such as counselling to relevant centres like the FAM @ FSCs.

Eventually, the 10 FAM @ FSCs will offer services to 4,000 families.

Four FAM @ FSCs – by AMKFSC Community Services, Care Corner Singapore, Fei Yue Community Services and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities – began operations in October, while another centre by Montfort Care is expected to be launched next month.

Five more centres are expected to be set up by the end of next year.

The programme offers timely help to individuals like Ms Harizah Ghani, 28, who was referred to counselling services during her divorce.

A year after her marriage in 2016, Ms Harizah separated from her husband after she faced mental and physical abuse. Her son was four months old then, and she had been unemployed after his birth.

After a legal process that dragged on for two years, Ms Harizah was granted a divorce in December 2019.

Although she received support from her family and found employment as a bank executive, the court processes and the responsibility of caring for her son affected her mental health.

“With help from my counsellors, I gained motivation and confidence to take care of my son by myself and overcome the stigma of divorce I had been living with,” she said.

During peer support group sessions, Ms Harizah drew strength from the experiences of other divorced parents like herself.

“I saw myself in their struggles and found a space to seek help and also extend help to others who were still undergoing the divorce process. I would advise other divorced parents to seek help early so they can take on the next phase of their life,” she added.

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