Our work culture has long led us to believe that if we worked hard, we would be rewarded justly for it. This mindset makes the issue of in-work poverty all the more insidious as it becomes easy to detach the employed from poverty. With more than 300,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents earning less than $1,500 a month despite working full time, in-work poverty is an issue that we have to tackle together, as a community.

Understanding the intricacies of what the working poor face is vital in our effort against poverty in Singapore. Low-wage workers predominantly occupy jobs in lower-skilled sectors such as retail, food and beverage, cleaning and manufacturing. We cross paths with them on a daily basis - cleaners, cashiers, drivers and labourers. They face uncertainties in making ends meet for their families and themselves, and this is exacerbated by multiple challenges. Being resource and time-poor, they are in a constant race against time to fulfill life’s daily demands.

The rising gig economy has drawn an increasing number of young workers, who lack the education, bandwidth and opportunities to find stable work. While flexible, platform work provides insufficient security and protection. With few support schemes catered to the young working poor, they are left trapped in a cycle of unstable income and poor working conditions.

The Best of You, in partnership with AMKFSC Community Services, will be hosting Conversations Reimagined: Work Hard Also Not Enough in commemoration of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in October. Join us and be part of the conversation on in-work poverty.

CONVERSATIONS REIMAGINED: Work Hard Also Not Enough
•  SATURDAY 29 OCTOBER 2022
•  1:00PM – 4:30PM SGT
•  FACEBOOK LIVE*
*Sign language interpretation will be available.

Programme

1.00pm:
Pre-event Activity - Human Library Sessions
2.00pm:
Main Event - Welcome
by Amy J. Cheng, Host & Moderator
2.05pm:
Opening Address
by Sai Tzy Horng, Director, Julie’s Biscuits / Founder, The Best of You
2.10pm:
Being Young and Low Income in a Dualized Labour Market
by Dr. Irene Ng, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore
2.35pm:
Q&A Session for Being Young and Low Income in a Dualized Labour Market with
by Dr. Irene Ng, Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore

Have a question on the topic? Send us your questions in the comments during the stream.

2.50pm:
Panel Discussion
With Dr. Mathew Mathews, Head of IPS Social Lab / Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore, Rachel Koh, Assistant Senior Social Worker, Sengkang Family Service Centre, AMKFSC Community Services, Sai Tzy Horng, Director, Julie’s Biscuits / Founder, The Best of You, Vanessa Sharlani Mohan, Parent Liaison Executive
4.00pm:
Q&A Session
With Dr. Mathew Mathews, Head of IPS Social Lab / Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore, Rachel Koh, Assistant Senior Social Worker, Sengkang Family Service Centre, AMKFSC Community Services, Sai Tzy Horng, Director, Julie’s Biscuits / Founder, The Best of You, Vanessa Sharlani Mohan, Parent Liaison Executive

Have a question about Urban Poverty? Send us your questions in the comments during the stream.

4.20pm:
Closing and Thank You
by Co-organiser AMKFSC Community Services and Sai Tzy Horng, Director, Julie’s Biscuits / Founder, The Best of You

Human Library Profiles

We believe that stories are tributes to the important people, accomplishments and experiences that have shaped one’s life. The Human Library activity creates a safe space for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between our human books and their readers, conversations that they would not normally have access to. Step into the shoes of our human books who are symbols of strength, resilience and love in spite of living with in-work poverty.

Come 29th October, our Human Library activity will feature these inspiring stories at the Conversations Reimagined: Work Hard Also Not Enough event.

Register to listen to their story first-hand on 29 October 2022, 1pm.

Register Now
The Single Mother’s Struggle

A single mother of 2, Nathelie first worked a job rife with hectic schedules and an unstable salary. Being the sole caregiver to her children, coupled with their need for frequent visits to the doctors due to her children’s health, served to worsen the overwhelming financial burden she already bore.
Longing for a change to a more stable employment, she found herself mired in the requirements for such an opportunity. Education, qualification, skills, these stepping stones always seemed to drift further and further as she exhausted all her time, finance and energy just trying to survive. Will Nathelie be able to overcome these insurmountable odds with her sheer will and unending love for her children?

A Caregiver’s Dilemma

Iris is married with two school-going children, aged 6 and 9 years old. Her husband has limited involvement with the family due to his work requiring him to be primarily overseas.
Taking of the sole responsponsibility of parenting and caregiving for her children limits her to an ad-hoc job with meager earnings.
With her personal savings and finances being all but drained, Iris started accruing arrears as a result of both basic and medical expenditure.

The Unexpected Turn

Mdm Theepa and her family were like any other run-of-the-mill-family. Both parents were gainfully employed and earned a modest income that was sufficient to meet the family’s basic needs. What they never foresaw was the coming of a terrifying storm.
Mdm Theepa’s husband was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2019. Things took a turn for the worse when her husband’s hereditary diabetes started affecting his eyesight in 2020.
With Mdm Theepa as the sole breadwinner, she had to work overtime in hopes of making ends meet. Even then, her family was afflicted by missed over-due payments and her having to take no-paid leave to accompany her husband to medical appointments.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Irene Y.H. Ng
Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, National University of Singapore

Dr. Irene Y.H. Ng is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Steering Committee Chair of the Social Service Research Centre in the National University of Singapore. She holds a joint Ph.D. in Social Work and Economics from the University of Michigan. Her research areas include poverty and inequality, intergenerational mobility, and social welfare policy. Her current research projects include a study of in-work poverty among the young; social safety nets in East Asia; and the development of universal digital access. She is active in the community, serving or having served in committees in the Ministry of Social and Family Development, National Council of Social Service, Ministry of Manpower, and various voluntary welfare organizations.

Panel Speakers

Dr. Mathew Mathews
Head of IPS Social Lab / Principal Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore
Profile

Dr. Mathew Mathews is Head of IPS Social Lab, a centre for social indicator research and a Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, NUS. To date, Mathews has been involved in over sixty research projects, most of them addressing social policy issues. Among his more recent projects are studies on intergenerational poverty, the impact of Covid-19 on lower income families, and the vulnerabilities and opportunities of platform work.

Mathews currently sits on the boards of OnePeople.sg and National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. He is a Research Advisor to the Ministry of Social and Family Development and Families for Life Council.

Rachel Koh
Assistant Senior Social Worker, Sengkang Family Service Centre, AMKFSC Community Services
Profile

Rachel is a social worker who is deeply influenced by her political science background, with a special interest in the exploration of power dynamics. She is passionate about examining the transformative impact that structural change can have on the lives of individuals what social service professionals work with. She particularly enjoys journeying alongside families who face chronic stressors and finding the opportunities for them to create a positive change for themselves. As a young supervisor to junior social service professionals, this is an area of learning that she hopes to delve deeper into. She also hosts a podcast, Social Work Made Accessible, with like-minded social service practitioners to open up a space for conversations on topics relevant to the practice.

Rachel believes that a key element of social work is the championing of social justice. In particular, she is an advocate for exploring how those facing disadvantages can thrive in a meritocratic system that mainly associates success with effort, and increases the inequality gap between those who have little and those who have too much.

Rachel hopes that Singaporeans can look beyond the HDB walls of uniformity to explore the lives of families who face disadvantages and better understand their circumstances, and withhold judgements about how they ought to live. Let’s start by understanding the systemic structures, and to walk alongside the people most trapped by it.

Sai Tzy Horng
Director, Julie’s Biscuits /
Founder, The Best of You
Profile

Educational Psychologist, founder of The Best of You Movement. Sai Tzy Horng is the Founder of The Best of You movement, a movement about the idea and practice of appreciation initiated by Julie’s Biscuits. He is vocationally trained as an educational psychologist. He’s resided in Malaysia, Singapore and Canada. Sai is a firm advocate of social equality and diversity, in a time where neoliberal capitalism is creating greater disparity within societies. He believes storytelling can help educate for social and cultural diversity and disrupt the dominant neoliberal narrative.

Vanessa Sharlani Mohan
Parent Liaison Executive
Profile

Vanessa is a single mother and main caregiver to three young children. With a strong passion for transforming young lives through early childhood development, the 33-year-old worked as a preschool teacher for more than 10 years. Despite her extensive work experience, Vanessa was unable to earn sufficient income to support her family, and faced challenging work environments, long hours, and low wages throughout her career.

As the sole breadwinner, Vanessa struggled to provide for her family’s basic needs, including medical expenses for her son with a long-term health condition. With little hope of being able to survive amidst the rising cost of living, Vanessa left her job as a preschool teacher and gave up on her dreams of being an early educator in 2022. Today, she works as a Parent Liaison Executive in a private education company, which has provided her with better financial stability and flexibility to care for her children.

As an active member in her local community, Vanessa has a deep understanding of how many fellow residents face circumstances like her own, and believes strongly in advocating for better support and working conditions towards those who face in-work poverty. She hopes to be able to champion for more assistance and initiatives to help others like herself break out of the poverty cycle, especially through up-skilling programmes and schemes.

Host and Moderator

Amy J. Cheng
Creative Director of ACT 3 Theatrics

Amy J. Cheng is the Creative Director of ACT 3 Theatrics.  Since 2012, she has continued to create and develop drama programmes.  She is a drama educator for pre-schoolers, poly students and persons with special needs. She also trains teachers in the field of drama education.  Amy graduated with an Honours Degree in Mass Communications and a Graduate Diploma in Education from Murdoch University (Perth). She earned a distinction for Oral Communication (Grade 8) from the London College of Music Examinations and completed a course by the Social Service Institute, where she worked with and Facilitated the learning of Children with Special Needs in the Arts in 2014.As an actress, Amy garnered a Best Actress nomination at the 2001 Asian Television Awards and for Best Supporting Actress at the 2006 Life! Theatre Awards. Her recent International project includes Warner Brothers’ Production of Crazy Rich Asians, as Jacqueline Ling.

Event Co-organiser

AMKFSC Community Services

Since 1978, AMKFSC Community Services Ltd (AMKFSC) has been committed to providing community-based social services to families and individuals in need. Through a full spectrum of developmental, preventive and remedial services, AMKFSC provides comprehensive support and intervention that is responsive to the community’s changing needs, helping disadvantaged children, youths, families, seniors and individuals to overcome life’s challenges and maximise their potential for a brighter future. An approved Institute of Public Character and a full member of National Council of Social Service, AMKFSC provides quality social services at more than 16 touchpoints across Central and North-East Singapore.

Website      Facebook      Instagram

Co-working Partner

JustCo

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Singapore, JustCo’s mission is to enable anyone to have the best work/life experience anywhere anytime. We pave the way for the future of work via platforms that are powered by technology.

In our communities, we connect dynamic entrepreneurs, start-ups and large corporations. People are at the heart of what we do, as we create networking events and strategic partnerships for our members and partners to gain insights, collaborate, and help each other. Our passion for customer satisfaction ensures our members find the same JustCo hospitality – comfort and peace of mind – no matter where they are.

We make work better by revolutionising how people work, empowering our ever-growing community with exceptional flexibility, opportunities and experiences.

Organiser

The Best of You

At the heart of the movement, The Best of You is about appreciation. Since its inception, the movement has been powered by the authentic stories of people from all walks of life within our community. These stories are tributes to the people and experiences that have shaped our lives and brought out the best in each and every one of us. The Best of You consciously partners various organisations, artists and storytellers to share both the struggles and accomplishments of everyday people from our community – especially those from marginalised communities.

In doing so, the movement hopes to celebrate the diverse groups of people that make up our community, remind ourselves of our shared humanity, and encourage the reimagination of a better tomorrow for all - one that leaves no one behind.

The Best of You is an initiative by the biscuits manufacturer, Julie’s.