Sunday 27 May 2012

Disabled to run new thrift shop

Minds partners NTUC arm to set up store in Redhill
By Janice Tai, The Straits Times, 26 May 2012

A THRIFT store with a difference will open at a void deck in Redhill next month.

Located within an eldercare centre operated by NTUC Eldercare and selling recycled items, it will be manned by adults with intellectual disabilities and the elderly.

The store is a partnership between the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) and NTUC Eldercare.

MINDS, which marks its 50th anniversary this year, is looking for more such collaborations with other social service providers such as eldercare agencies.

MINDS president Conrad Campos said: 'To achieve economies of scale, we can partner other sectors, especially in areas where the issues are similar and future demand cannot be met with current supply.'

He was speaking at MINDS' 50th anniversary dinner at the Shangri-La hotel last night, at which President Tony Tan Keng Yam was guest of honour.

The head of state launched MINDS' 50th anniversary commemorative book at the event, which was also attended by the staff, volunteers and corporate partners of MINDS.

Mr Campos, presenting a thumbnail sketch of MINDS' history in his speech, told of how it made a modest start in the early 1960s with a single classroom in Towner Road for 26 intellectually challenged children. Its early years were spent meeting the most basic educational and housing needs of those with such disabilities.

By the 1970s, however, it became apparent that the adults among them needed some means of financial independence. MINDS then started providing work opportunities through its sheltered workshops.

Since then, it has become one of Singapore's oldest and largest voluntary welfare organisations; it runs four special education schools, three sheltered workshops, three day-activity centres and a multi-purpose residential centre.

Over the years, its role has evolved beyond meeting basic care needs to helping its beneficiaries become job-ready and financially independent.

Its cross-sector partnerships like the one with Shangri-La hotel have led to the setting up of a mock-up hotel bedroom in its schools; it has also teamed up with Singapore Petroleum Company to run a car wash.

This year, MINDS will look into providing home care services for its members who have to be cared for at home. The services include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and giving the disabled person's caregiver a break.

Ms Ang Bee Lian, the chief executive of the National Council of Social Service, said MINDS is ready to move into doing this.

'It will have the opportunity to adapt from its rich and in-depth experience to provide more options in adult care,' she said.

MINDS' milestones

1961: A group of philanthropists open Singapore's first special education school, Chin Pu Centre in Towner Road, to cater to intellectually disabled children.

1962: The group registers itself as the Singapore Association for Retarded Children, later known as the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS).

1969: The first residential home in Singapore for the intellectually disabled, Tampines Home, is set up.

1998: Singapore's first purpose-built special school for the intellectually disabled opens in Kembangan.

2000: Singapore Airlines helps fund the building of Singapore's first sheltered workshop for job training in Margaret Drive.

2006: MINDSville@Napiri, Singapore's first multi-service centre for the intellectually disabled, opens. It houses a group home, hostel and a day-activity centre for adults, along with a children's wing.

2008: The Special Needs Trust Company, through which people can set up trusts for their special-needs family members, is set up. The idea for this was mooted by MINDS in 1987.

2010: MINDS pioneers the first community group home for the intellectually disabled in Bedok to encourage independent living.

2012: Pilot programme to provide home care services for members who have to be cared for at home debuts.

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