Thursday, 30 July 2015

SCORE Appreciation Awards 2015: Chalking up a big SCORE with ex-offenders

69 individuals, organisations get awards for helping former inmates at the workplace
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits Times, 29 Jul 2015

After spending eight years in jail, Mr Richard Tee was not used to life in a regular workplace.

But his supervisor at toast and coffee chain Ya Kun International, Mr David Wong, encouraged him as he entered the workforce.

For his praiseworthy behaviour, Mr Wong was given a Model Supervisor award yesterday. He was among 69 individuals and organisations recognised at the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) Appreciation Awards Ceremony 2015.

The annual awards by SCORE, a statutory board under the Ministry of Home Affairs which helps inmates and former offenders rebuild their lives, were given out at the Grassroots' Club in Ang Mo Kio.

Mr Tee, 50, who was jailed for drug-related offences and is now a cook at Ya Kun, said: "I've never worked before so it was difficult because it's a very different lifestyle. But (Mr Wong) helped me a lot. He taught me how to cook ." And while it is difficult in the food and beverage industry to take Sundays off, Mr Tee said Mr Wong lets him do so, enabling him to go to church.

To show his gratitude to his "very good-tempered" boss, Mr Tee, who is the first ex-offender to be hired by Ya Kun, nominated Mr Wong as a "surprise" for him.

Mr Wong, 53, an executive chef at Ya Kun, said: "(Ex-offenders) are not different from anyone else... People make mistakes. They should be given a second chance. And being a supervisor, you have to be in their shoes to understand them."

Ms Maria Rona Malana, 39, from restaurant chain Nando's, was another Model Supervisor award winner - always willing to listen, and give work and personal advice.

She said: "As a restaurant manager, I'm like a mother to (the other employees). If there's a personal or work problem, we will discuss it and find ways to resolve it."

Others recognised yesterday included fast-food chain Burger King and hotel Regent Singapore.

As of May, SCORE had about 4,600 employers willing to offer jobs to ex-offenders. Last year, SCORE helped 1,938 inmates, and about 96 per cent secured jobs before they were released.

Ms Juliana Abdul Khalik, SCORE's director of reintegration, said: "Employment is one of the critical factors that helps them to stay away from crime. When they are stable and engaged at work, that ensures their time is meaningfully occupied and they find a purpose in life."

She said employers should also provide a supportive work environment, and treat ex-offenders like the rest of the employees.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo, who was the guest of honour at the ceremony, said: "There will always be things every one of us looks back in our lives and wish it was different, wish did not happen, wish we had not done...

"All of us can relate to how important and challenging it might be to find the acceptance and be reintegrated with society."

Themed “Building Aspirations Through Work”, the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) Appreciation...
Posted by Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

F&B jobs for some inmates even before their release
Tie-up between rehab agency, restaurant body also helps sector resolve labour crunch
By Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times, 5 Aug 2015

At least 100 prison inmates a year will get the chance to secure jobs in the food and beverage (F&B) industry - even before they are released.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) and the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) was signed yesterday to help offenders find employment in the sector.

It was inked by SCORE's chief executive officer, Mr Stanley Tang, and RAS vice-president Vincent Tan at Hope Cafe, an F&B training facility within the Changi Prison Complex

Since its inception in November 2013, almost 500 offenders have received Workforce Skills Qualifications certificates in F&B operations and culinary arts at the cafe.

The MOU will allow both parties to further tap the potential of talented ex-offenders and RAS' pool of employers in the sector.

Noting the current manpower crunch in the F&B industry, Mr Tan agreed that the MOU will bring "another channel of workforce" as well as provide inmates a chance to reintegrate into society.

After inmates have been assessed for suitability and the relevant training is provided, employers will conduct interviews in prison and make hiring decisions on the spot.

For the first six months, job coaches from SCORE will visit the workplace to speak to ex-offenders and their supervisors.

Mr Mike Toh, who now manages Fish & Co's Khoo Teck Puat Hospital outlet, remembers the difficulties he faced at work after his release from prison four years ago.

"Ex-inmates often have to cope with many personal issues and so they won't be able to concentrate on the job," he said.

Mr Toh worked in the kitchen for just four months before taking over as manager. "With this training given to them, they will be more mentally prepared," said the 41-year-old, who has since trained at least 10 ex-offenders at his outlet.

Fish & Co managing director Hoo Hoe Keat said: "We're happy with this initiative as it gives ex-offenders a better idea of what the working environment is like so they can make a better decision."

The company has hired more than 100 former offenders in various position in the last six years.

No comments:

Post a Comment