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HDB to Inject $1.5M to Support More Ground-Up Projects and Strengthen Community Ties
A park catering to pets of HDB residents in Bukit Panjang, and a community art gallery in Toa Payoh where residents with green fingers can also grow their vegetables – these are some of the community-led projects that have been implemented under the Lively Places Challenge (LPC) , to enliven Singapore’s public spaces and encourage bonding in the HDB heartland. To support more of such projects over the next few years, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced at the launch of the HDB Community Week 2021 today, that HDB will set aside another $1.5 million for the Lively Places Fund (LPF).
2 Since the induction of the LPF in 2016, HDB has seen a strong take-up of the fund to support an increasing number of ground-up initiatives. To-date, more than $800,000 in funding have been disbursed/ committed to support over 170 community projects, benefitting close to 85,000 residents across various HDB towns.
3 The latest edition of the LPC saw keen interest, attracting about 650 participants who have gone on to initiate 60 projects in the building and non-building categories in eight HDB towns (Bishan, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Punggol, Sengkang, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun). Of these, 36 projects have been implemented. HDB CEO Tan Meng Dui said: “Despite the challenges and disruptions caused by COVID-19, it is heartening to see residents coming together virtually and making other adjustments, to work on projects that enliven our public spaces, strengthen community bonds and build the kampung spirit in our housing estates. Close-knit communities do not happen by chance. With the injection of more funding, we hope to inspire more residents to take greater ownership and plan for even more impactful community projects to create vibrant neighbourhoods and forge lasting friendships amongst their neighbours. This is the essence of HDB’s community-building efforts - working with the community, for the community - to create a great living environment where communities thrive.”
4 In addition to a funding of up to $20,000 for their project, each team also received training from Institutes of Higher Learning to build up their capabilities in organising ground-up projects. In the implementation of their projects, the teams were guided by an HDB staff member who worked with them through the entire process – from brainstorming and ideation, to refinement of ideas and the execution of their initiatives. Undeterred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project teams took to hybrid forms of engagements, continuing to meet both online and in person to see their projects to fruition.
5 The teams were judged based on their ability to engage residents and stakeholders, benefits and sustainability to the community, and overall impact. Among the projects, the top three teams in the building and non-building categories were each awarded cash prizes of $2,500 and $2,000 respectively. The winning projects include (please refer to Annex A for the full list):
Part of the team behind Pets Park @ Segar Gardens, which opened in Dec 2020.
To tackle the problem of pets’ waste leaving stains and causing stench in the common areas at a neighbourhood in Bukit Panjang, Mr Raymond Ang’s team of ‘pets ambassadors’ created a mini pets park with an obstacle course for their furry friends. Carved out from an open lawn in front of the multi-storey car park at Segar Gardens, the new space facilitates interaction among pet owners and other residents, and raises awareness on responsible pet ownership and gracious behaviour. Currently, an average of 25 residents visit Pets Park daily. The team has also formed an interest group with about 50 members to-date, where they share and exchange information on caring for pets, deals for pet-related items, and plan weekly meet ups at the Pets park via a WhatsApp group chat.
Desktop calendars featuring recipes were distributed to 200 Toa Payoh residents.
“Food is what binds people together” - this is the belief of Mr Damian Tan and his team who set out to curate a list of family recipes to pass down to the next generation. The team worked with the Toa Payoh South Community Club to identify seniors living in Toa Payoh who were willing to share their family recipes and conduct cooking demonstrations. Videos of the cooking demonstrations were later uploaded onto a YouTube channel called ‘Taste of Toa Payoh’ to encourage more Singaporeans to cook at home. Additionally, the team designed and printed desktop calendars featuring the recipes of 12 signature dishes including Korean fried chicken, nasi goreng, muah chee and chapati, which were distributed to about 200 Toa Payoh residents.
Kampong Kakis (right) was set up at the void deck of Blk 158 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, for residents to interact and bond with one another.
It also hosts an indoor hydroponics system (left) among other features
Observing the generational gap among residents in their neighbourhood, Mr Xavier Toh’s team wanted to find meaningful and novel ways to bring the community together. After surveying close to 50 residents, the team found that many were interested in greening activities and art and craft. With this in mind, the team designed a 4-in-1 community incubator space, Kampong Kakis, at the void deck of Blk 158 Toa Payoh Lorong 1. Launched in December 2020, it hosts an indoor hydroponics system, food vending machines, an art gallery, and a space for social gatherings. The team also worked with partners such as Food Bank to contribute food to the needy, and partnered preschools in the vicinity to showcase the students’ art pieces at their art gallery. To-date, an estimated 220kg of vegetables has been harvested from the hydroponics system, and over 140 Food Bank cards have been distributed. The art gallery also features more than 60 art pieces done by pre-schoolers and residents.
6 Moving forward, HDB will be extending the Lively Places Challenge to another batch of towns. In the next five years, HDB aims to support community projects across all HDB towns.
7 Besides the Lively Places Challenge, HDB’s Friends of Our Heartlands (FOH) network has also drawn passionate volunteers to give of their time and talent to build cohesive communities in the heartlands. The FOH network amalgamates HDB’s wide range of community building and volunteering programmes under one umbrella to offer a holistic platform for volunteers to take up multiple volunteering opportunities, while networking with like-minded individuals and organisations to tap on partnership opportunities (please refer to Annex B for details).
8 Since its launch in 2017, the programme has drawn close to 12,000 volunteers. These volunteers actively promote gracious and responsible living, implement projects to bring neighbours together, and help facilitate community conversations and build consensus relating to neighbourhood improvement works. Through these activities, the volunteers have reached out to about 156,000 residents. In light of the pandemic, some of the volunteers worked with HDB to co-create an Eco Trails e-resource kit to guide the public in exploring their towns on their own. This digital resource, made available in February 2021 on the HDB InfoWEB, is free for download.
9 At the FOH Volunteer Engagement Day held in conjunction with the HDB Community Week today, more than 700 volunteers and organisations received the Certificate of Appreciation and FOH Awards for their contributions in strengthening the fabric of HDB communities, and making the heartlands a better home for all. One of the volunteers who received the Gold Award is 73-year-old Mdm Tan Ha Eng. Driven by her passion to continually enrich her knowledge on Singapore’s towns and our living environment, Ha Eng has been volunteering as an HDB eco-guide for the past 8 years. She leads trails around Punggol Town, during which she shares with her participants, who range from young students to seniors like her, her own stories about the history of Punggol, and points out the green innovations and features of the eco town. She also lent her expertise to the development of the Eco Trails e-resource kit. Mdm Tan, who lives in Ang Mo Kio, said: “This programme allows me to learn about Punggol, while making new friends in the process. It is also interesting to discover the new features of public housing, and I hope to share this with fellow Singaporeans.”
10 Eight student volunteers from Singapore Polytechnic also received the Bronze Award for their contribution in raising awareness on the importance of personal hygiene and encouraging more eco practices. Using Facebook as a platform, they organised a virtual workshop to teach Punggol residents how to make their own hand sanitiser holders, and conducted online courses on mask embroidery for Tampines residents. Participants were encouraged to gift the embroidered masks to their neighbours, while the handmade sanitiser holders were distributed to seniors. The students, all of whom are majoring in Integrated Events & Project Management, have clocked an impressive total of 904 volunteering hours over the past two years, translating to an average of 113 volunteering hours per student.
Student volunteers from Singapore Polytechnic taught Punggol and Tampines residents how to make hand sanitiser holders (left)
and embroider masks.
11 At this year’s Community Week, HDB also unveiled a digital art installation, curated from over 3000 artworks submitted for a community art project. Themed “Our HDB, Our Home, Together We Paint Our Future!”, the project was launched in Oct 2020 in tandem with HDB’s Designing for Life Roadmap. Through art and creative expression, it aims to capture the hopes and aspirations of HDB residents for what living in the HDB heartland should look like, and serve as inspiration for HDB as we plan and design our towns going forward. Besides school students and residents across various towns, HDB also partnered SG Enable to reach out to Social Service Agencies such as Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), Metta Welfare Association, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped and TOUCH Community Services.
12 More than 3000 participants across different demographic profiles participated in the project, submitting their artworks submitted online or physically . Among them, about one-third of the participants (35%) expressed their hope of living in a close-knit community where neighbours are friendly, helpful and caring towards one another. Another 30% also wished to live close to nature with abundant green spaces, and hope to see the adoption of sustainable practices in their neighbourhoods such as the use of renewable energy sources and urban farming to grow their own food. Many also look forward to a more inclusive environment that embraces people of all ages and abilities, with more opportunities for residents to interact and connect with one another.
Participants from various Social Service Agencies hope for exercise stations, green spaces and recreational playgrounds to be easily accessible to people with disabilities (left), while 11-year-old student Ng Tze Rey (right) is inspired by new ways of making renewable energy. He hopes that more solar panels would be installed on flats to provide electricity.
13 The artworks created have been curated into an art installation by master artist Sun Yu-li, who added the finishing touches to connect the various art forms. The public can view the video montage of the entire art creation process on the HDB InfoWEB. Selected artworks such as the painted totems and framed canvases will be given to participating organisations and schools for their installation and display at their premises.
Selected artworks from the Community Art Project, such as painted totems or framed canvases, will be given to participating organisations
and schools for their installation and display at their premises.
14 The HDB Community Week runs from 24 Jul to 1 Aug 2021. Themed “LIFE in the Heartlands”, this year’s Community Week aims to recognise the communities’ efforts in enhancing the living environment and promoting gracious living in the heartlands. An exhibition, showcasing the 60 projects to enliven HDB spaces, stories of outstanding volunteers, as well as the Community Art Project, can be viewed on the HDB InfoWEB.
15 As part of our public engagement efforts, HDB will organise virtual workshops and talks for residents, covering four aspects – healthy living, sustainable living, quality living, and creative living. These include origami workshops, green and upcycling workshops, and workshops on DIY home repairs. Members of the public can sign up for these workshops and talks online.