Beyond is a Community Development Agency that functions as a support network for the children, youth and the community they live in. It reaches out to over 10,000 rental units in government rental blocks in Bukit Ho Swee, Lengkok Bahru, Henderson, Whampoa, Ang Mo Kio, Lavender, Stirling, Jalan Bukit Merah and Ghim Moh.
The organisation works to create a positive environment where children and youth feel a sense of belonging, which prevents them from turning to negative influences. Beyond organises activities that cultivate a positive mindset and to inculcate a sense of care for fellow human beings, which can range from volunteer work to simple workshops that expand the participants’ view of their community and the challenges faced.
Here are some stories which showcase how Beyond has helped children from less privileged backgrounds break away from the poverty cycle:
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” – Eugene Ionesco, playwright
In 2022, Beyond established Family Circles, a safe space where participants could come together to discuss some of Singapore’s pertinent social issues. In particular, Beyond invited eight teenagers from different neighbourhoods to explore how they could lead or be a part of a social action project that they cared about.
With their mothers actively involved in community activities such as advising neighbours on how to improve their health or caring for the older folks in the neighbourhood, these youths were inspired to try and make a difference in their communities. Having grown up in closely-knit communities, they have come to value the willingness in which resources and problems are shared among neighbours and how people come together to understand common issues of concern.
The eight of them came together and started discussing the issues they would like to tackle, which included a myriad of topics such as climate change, dating violence, domestic violence, youth mental health, safe neighbourhoods for children, care for ageing neighbours and youth empowerment.
While the group did not always manage to come up with solutions and answers to their questions, the entire experience enabled them to understand different viewpoints and empathise with varying beliefs. They continue to meet regularly where they deliberate on or debate about the topics that interest them.
Family Circles also helps bring people together where they learn about and accept different views, enabling them to develop more empathy for their fellow human beings. This heightened sense of compassion and understanding is crucial as individuals may struggle with their unique ways of communicating or even studying, which was the case with Deborah (not her real name).
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau, writer
Nine-year-old Deborah often struggled with Mathematics and Tamil in school despite showing interest in her studies. Her struggles were exacerbated by the fact that she did not respond well to the learning methodologies employed by her primary school. However, it would place a financial strain on Deborah’s family to enroll her in private tuition classes as they were from a less privileged background.
Deborah’s mother, Anna (not her real name), enrolled her in Beyond’s Learning Is Fun & Exciting (LIFE) programme, which has tutors structuring lessons and learning activities to be fun and exciting. Established for primary school children coming from disadvantaged environments, the LIFE programme aims to get the children up to speed with their peers.
Beyond’s tutors have identified and catered their approach to Deborah’s unique style and pace of learning, which has helped the child to improve and enjoy Mathematics and Tamil even more. On the home front, Anna has also realised how words of encouragement can spur her daughter to perform better in her studies, and she regularly reassures Deborah on how she is doing well.
Deborah’s story has shown how having a strong support group is critical for individuals who are experiencing difficulties and hardships. The next story also underlines the importance of having a community one can depend on.
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller, author
Belle (not her real name) moved to Singapore from Sumatra 20 years ago after getting married to a Singaporean. Life was lonely for her as she had no family and few friends here in Singapore. Belle’s loneliness got worse as she grew apart from her then-husband, prompting Belle to choose to work as much as possible since she did not have any family or friends to socialise with.
Joining Beyond’s Family Circles group allowed Belle to make friends and slowly share about her challenges. Family Circles is a programme that was meant to bring together community members who had financial difficulties during the COVID-19 period. By encouraging members to take the initiative in tackling their financial problems and sharing solutions, Family Circles allows low-income families to get access to resources that can accelerate their efforts towards social mobility. Working with Amazon Singapore on the Amazon x Shop for Good wishlist has also allowed Beyond to help the communities with the items they need.
This support and access to resources was especially crucial to Belle, who was experiencing both emotional and financial difficulties as she had struggled for the last three years to have her divorce officially registered in Singapore. As COVID restrictions eased up, Belle was able to physically meet with her Family Circles friends and share her challenges. She even managed to get advice from a Family Circles member who was in a similar situation and Belle is finally seeing some progress on her divorce proceedings. As the Family Circles members shared their challenges and advice, Belle has grown to see this group as her Singaporean family.
”I have friends in Family Circles, those who share the same fate as I do and together, we can share our burdens and stories.”
Support for life
As a community development agency, Beyond adopts an asset-based community development approach. It aims to provide support and resources that enable families and communities to care for themselves and each other. Beyond believes that every member has strengths and with some support, will be able to overcome their problems and take ownership of their lives. By being in the service of people’s efforts, Beyond, with the support of the wider community, works to nurture change agents, strengthen community competence to address challenges and facilitate empowered communities that encourages initiative, self-created solutions, mutual help and solidarity, where people live powerful, satisfying and hopeful lives.
Visit Beyond Social Services’ website for more information.
If you would like to donate, have a look at Beyond’s wish list.