Singapore’s Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) lead complex lives and have to manage their own affairs and happiness as well as the satisfaction of their employers. Being legally entitled to one rest day a week, the FDWs need a place where they can maximize their free day – get their errands done, relax, socialize, and simply take a break from catering to others’ needs. Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) president Seah Seng Choon announced yesterday that Singapore FDWs can look forward to a shiny new clubhouse, which will feature counseling services, a sports centre and a training academy for useful skills, among other services. The new clubhouse will be operational in mid-2019.
Yesterday, on October 21, Singapore FDWs celebrated the ninth FDW Day at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio.
In his welcome address, Fast president Seah said, “Last year, I promised you a new and bigger clubhouse in view of the huge membership [of Fast]. The good news is that we have already identified a larger location for our new clubhouse and we plan to move in by the middle of next year.”
Seah said that Fast has been looking at renting the now-defunct Telok Kurau Secondary School building. Talks are already underway, and renovation plans are in the works. If all goes to plan, the new clubhouse, which is 10 times larger than their current location at Jalan Bukit Merah, should be ready by the middle of next year.
Seah spoke of the renovation costs, which he estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but communicated that Fast is not worried about raising the necessary money through partners, sponsors and well-wishers who wish to donate.
He acknowledged that FDWs need their own place where they can fully relax, socialize with each other comfortably, exercise and play sports, learn new skills, remit money and undergo meditation and counselling, among others.
At the current clubhouse at Jalan Bukit Merah, which can handle only 500 people, FDWs can relax, socialize and engage in stimulating hobbies. Seah said that Fast wants something bigger and better for its members, who are about 8,000 in number.
The new facility should be able to accommodate around 5,000, ten times more than the current capacity, and will offer much more than before – Fast is planning to include a training academy where maids can upskill themselves, a sports centre and a social service hub where FDWs can go for counselling and mediation services.
Fast is looking at providing training courses that cover specific caring techniques for people with dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other disabilities. These courses will be of great value to FDWs, who have had to take on extra caregiving duties on top of their usual workload, as reported by The Independent in a separate piece.
Singapore has an aging population, and FDWs are often expected to provide personal care to their elderly employers. The new courses are expected to start in a few months and will cover many aspects of caregiving, such as knowing when and how to administer medication, how to move patients properly, how to communicate with those who have difficulties in speaking, where and how to seek help and other aspects of caregiving.
In the beginning of this month, Fast launched the Caregiver Support Service and Helpline (1800-339-2273, or 1800 FDW CARE), to give FDWs who provide caregiving services an outlet for stress management, stress relief and mental resilience.
The new clubhouse will feature an extensive sports arena, which will be set-up for volleyball, basketball and badminton. A gymnasium, aerobics hall, yoga room, music lounge, cafeteria, shop and others are also in the works. FDWs will be able to pursue their personal fitness and sports they are interested in.
The new clubhouse will also have other necessary services such as money remittance, courier services and SIM card reloading.
Seah noted that a new clubhouse was necessary, as “we sometimes don’t have enough room to organise new activities for FDWs. We need the space to organise different kinds of activities at the same time”.
“We hope FDWs will gather at the new clubhouse, instead of at other places such as Lucky Plaza. We want them to have a place to call their own, where they can celebrate their birthday, enjoy the facilities and activities such as line dancing and zumba.”