• Published Date: 28 May 2022

    Ten years since the launch of the inaugural HDB Community Week in 2012, some half a million residents in HDB estates have played an active role in enlivening community spaces and strengthening neighbourly ties in their estates. About 14,000 have also come forward as volunteers under HDB’s Friends of Our Heartlands (FOH) network, serving as change-makers to build a stronger community and make the heartlands a more harmonious living environment for residents.


    2 At the launch of HDB’s tenth Community Week 2022 today, Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee honoured the outstanding efforts of the residents, volunteers, schools, and organisations who have partnered HDB in enlivening community spaces and strengthening community ties.


    3 Over the last decade, HDB has introduced a wide range of programmes to encourage HDB residents to play an active role in building strong communities in the heartlands. These include the Good Neighbours Movement, Lively Places Programme, and Friends of Our Heartlands network.


    Promoting Neighbourliness

     

    4 Good neighbourly behaviour and habits are fundamental to building a gracious and harmonious living environment and strengthening community resilience, making living in the HDB heartland more pleasant for all. In 2009, HDB launched the Good Neighbour Award (GNA) to honour residents who have gone the extra mile to enrich their community with exemplary acts of care and neighbourliness. The Award was jointly organised by HDB and People's Association (PA) and supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Over the years, the number of GNA nominations has grown steadily, with nominations for good neighbours from the community totalling close to 17,000. To-date, 2,200 residents have received the Good Neighbour Award. Comprising residents of all ages, they include those who have helped prepare home-cooked meals and nursed their neighbour in times of illness, cleaned the common corridor to improve the living environment for their neighbours, and even organised activities for others in their neighbourhood.


    5 To grow the community of caring and supportive neighbours, the GNA was incorporated into a new Good Neighbours Movement (GNM) in 2014. Through the GNM, we aim to raise awareness of positive social behaviours, inspire behavioural change, and recognise those who have made a difference in their neighbourhoods. For example, in 2020, HDB collaborated with the SKM to encourage residents to exercise consideration towards one another by keeping volumes down at night, notifying their neighbours in advance of renovation works, and helping their elderly neighbours run errands if they need help.


    6 In April 2022, HDB launched the #OurGoodNeighbours TikTok Challenge, to seed greater awareness of the importance of neighbourliness. The month-long challenge invited the community to share videos of what makes a good neighbour. Close to 100 videos capturing heart-warming and thoughtful neighbourly acts were submitted. From sharing of food, to gifting of presents and exercising consideration for neighbours during renovation, there was no lack of ideas for the acts of kindness in our daily lives. These videos have since garnered more than 5.8 million views. Some of these good ideas will be incorporated in our public education efforts, to drive home the importance of being a good neighbour.


    Enlivening Heartland Spaces

     

    7 In planning and building HDB towns, HDB provides a wide variety of shared spaces and facilities, such as civic plazas, void decks and community living rooms, common green spaces and even 3-generation playgrounds. These spaces offer ample opportunities for residents to meet their neighbours and get to know each other better. To support ground-up initiatives that can enliven these public spaces and encourage bonding in the HDB heartland, HDB launched the Lively Places Programme2  in 2016.


    8 Since then, close to $850,000 has been disbursed to support some 270 ground-up projects. Over 100,000 residents have benefitted from these community projects, which range from smaller-scale hobby and craft workshops to larger-scale events such as activities and performances at community plazas, and the conversion of public spaces into allotment gardens or community farms. These initiatives have helped to bring residents together to create shared experiences and forge lasting friendships amongst neighbours.


    9 To support more of such projects over the next few years, HDB has set aside another $1.5 million for the Lively Places Fund. From third quarter of 2022, Singaporeans can also participate in a new round of Lively Places Challenge to spearhead projects that promote community spirit in the following towns and estates:

     

     • Ang Mo Kio   • Jurong East
     • Bedok  • Jurong West
     • Bukit Merah  • Queenstown
     • Bukit Timah  • Sembawang
     • Central  

    Growing Heartland Volunteering

     

    10 In 2017, HDB launched the Friends of Our Heartlands (FOH) network to provide a continuum of volunteering opportunities for Singaporeans to deepen their involvement in community-building. From spreading messages to initiating projects, facilitating conversations, or training younger volunteers, volunteers can grow and deepen their level of involvement according to their own interests and capabilities. They also benefit from being able to network with like-minded individuals and organisations and tap into partnership opportunities. To equip volunteers with skills to perform their roles effectively, training is provided in areas such as communication, facilitation, project management, etc.


    11 To-date, the FOH network has grown to comprise almost 14,000 passionate volunteers, including students. 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. Collectively, they have devoted over 30,000 hours of their time to volunteering and reached out to over 158,000 residents. In 2021 alone, almost 2,230 of these volunteers were very active in organising activities to bring the community together.


    12 Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our volunteers continued to champion gracious heartland living and build caring communities, by pivoting to virtual platforms to engage residents. For example, using Facebook, a group of student volunteers organised a virtual workshop to teach residents how to make their own hand sanitiser holders, and conducted courses on mask embroidery. Participants were encouraged to gift the embroidered masks to their neighbours, while the handmade sanitiser holders were distributed to seniors. Through such engagements, they took the opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of personal hygiene and weave in useful neighbourliness tips.


    Strong Relationships with Neighbours Forged through Community Building Efforts

     

    13 Through sustained community building efforts, HDB’s Sample Household Survey 2018 results show that most residents (96.9%) were satisfied with neighbourly relations, exchanging greetings, and engaging in casual conversations. In addition, a higher proportion of younger residents engaged in social media or chatgroups with their neighbours. About half of the residents surveyed also said that they had visited their neighbours and exchanged gifts, while more than one in three had asked their neighbours to help keep watch over their flats. The proportion of residents contributing to the community has also increased over the years, with 40.2% offering help such as keeping the common areas clean and picking up litter, volunteering, and looking after their neighbours, compared to 27.1% in 2013.


    About HDB Community Week

     

    14 The tenth HDB Community Week 2022 will run from 28 May to 5 June 2022. The week-long event will feature daily virtual workshops covering topics such as healthy and eco living. Members of the public are invited to sign up for these free workshops to pick up tips on living a healthy lifestyle, gardening, decluttering the home, and handicraft-making. They may also view the Community Week exhibition online via the HDB InfoWEB.

     

     

    1The HDB Community Week celebrates the community spirit in our heartlands and showcases the rich tapestry of Singapore’s heartland experiences – our neighbours, our communities, and our towns.

    2The Lively Places Programme comprises the Lively Places Fund (LPF) and the Lively Places Challenge (LPC). Together, they support the community in shaping public spaces by organising community activities or creating installations in their neighbourhood.