Singapore—Gilbert Goh, who regularly conducts outreach programmes to aid the homeless in Singapore, recently held one at Changi Airport.
Cold and rainy nights have meant that the homeless need to seek shelter indoors, especially in the evenings. And according to Mr Goh, a social activist, there were a number of homeless at Changi Airport’s lounges on the night that his team visited on September 14.
But perhaps it was the sheer number of homeless individuals, mostly men but a few women as well, that shocked Mr Goh. He wrote, “Shocked to see so many homeless folks holing up in our airport lounge during yesterday’s blanket/sleeping bag distribution though silently glad that they have a safe clean place to rest their tired bodies away from the cold weather outside.
“There are at least fifteen of them sleeping sitting up and some are even properly dressed in shirt and pants. Only one solo elderly uncle was spotted lying down on the cold hard floor.”
Shocked to see so many homeless folks holing up in our airport lounge during yesterday's blanket/sleeping bag…
Mr Goh thanked the airport management at the end of his post for their compassion to those who do not have a roof over the heads, writing, “I just want to take this opportunity to thank the airport management for their compassion in allowing them to rest at the lounge – it speaks volumes of their love and commitment towards a more caring society.
The activist also provided a demographic breakdown in his experience with helping the homeless, writing that most of them are males in their 50s to 60s, although there are a number of females as well. He added that he thinks some work during the daytime, but for personal reasons are unable to obtain their own accommodation.
Of Changi Airport as a venue for shelter, he referred to it as a “haven for the homeless community” not only for the cleanliness of the venue but more importantly, for its safety. He added, “For those homeless folks who are female in gender, the airport must be the first choice on their mind when it comes to a free public shelter option.”
As he has been doing so in his posts about the less fortunate in the country he ended his post by encouraging the public to “Do something good for Singapore.”
As to whether or not Changi Airport has an official policy of allowing the homeless to stray within its vicinity is unknown. In a 2017 story of a woman who lived in Changi Airport for eight years, the Changi Airport Group is quoted by the straitstimes.com as saying in a statement that its staff encourages people who seek shelter at the airport not to do so.
“We will work with agencies like the Ministry of Social and Family Development, as well as Family Service Centres, to find the best way to help them,” the statement said.
A 2015 story also says that a couple who had stayed at the airport for several months were asked to leave by the airport’s security guards but received social assistance from the Social Service Office as well as the Family Service Centre.
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