In our Faces of Co-operators series, we speak to young co-operators who share their passion for promoting the well-being of the communities where we live and work.
Meet Rudy who spoke passionately about the work he has been doing, despite being a quiet person by nature.
Tell us more about yourself.
I am Rudy, 29 years old this year. I am a Social Service Executive, Programmes & Services at ISCOS (Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Ltd).
I was previously a frontline officer at Ang Mo Kio Neighbourhood Police Centre during my National Service (NS) which intrigued me in law enforcement and the judicial system. That was the very reason why I studied Sociology with specialisation in crime, law and justice for my degree.
#funfact: Sambal Macaroni + ice milo = Every Wednesday’s breakfast
How did your passion for this community come about?
I knew that my calling is to serve the people. During NS, I engaged with people who entered the criminal justice system. Now, I work with people who have exited the criminal justice system through aftercare integration and support. This allows me to have an overview of the judicial system!
Share with us a day in your job.
Life in the Programme and Services department is exciting!
We have members or clients seeking employment assistance and training subsidies to upgrade their skillset through Skills Assistance Subsidy Scheme (SASS). I handle all the training subsidy applications by sharing with them the information and assess their suitability for the application. SASS gives me the opportunity to work closely with training providers such as driving centres in Singapore and NTUC LearningHub Co-operative. I also have the privilege to raise awareness of ISCOS through the regular outreach drives in prisons.
As our members transit from prison to the outside world, they face difficulties due to the rapid changes happening in Singapore as well as the stigmatisation of past imprisonment. Thus, every week, I run Project ReConnect, a structured programme that aims to equip newly released ex-offenders who have served long prison sentences with the essential life skills needed for everyday life in Singapore.
Project Reconnect helps in three ways:
- Familiarise with policy
I will give a brief orientation on topics such as employment, social assistance, housing, medical and finance matters to update them. For example, we leverage on technology by guiding them on how to set up Singpass which is very vital to all Singaporeans. We also provide transportation for them to complete their set up as they have to go to two locations.
- Familiarise with technology
“What is your Wi-Fi password?” –
A common phrase that we can all resonate in the technological era, but may sound unfamiliar to some of these new members. We teach them how to use smartphones, how to connect to Wi-Fi network and more. With these simple skills learnt, they can leverage on it to benefit them in their job applications and more. For those who are working or thinking to work in delivery or logistic industry, they can learn how to use Google maps to navigate to their destination.
- Familiarise with community
Many Singaporeans now use the self-service checkout counters at NTUC Fairprice Co-operative and can appreciate the speed and convenience it brings to buying groceries. Someone who has not been exposed to such technology may feel anxious about using these counters so I demonstrate to them how to use these counters.
What are some of the challenges faced in your role?
Dealing with members who have multiple needs that require attention.
Sometimes I encounter a member who has multiple issues to address such as employment assistance, financial assistance, family issues, etc. While we try to do what we can to help, sometimes, we may not have all the resources needed such as counselling. In such cases, we need to reach out to other agencies and professionals and tap on their expertise. Coordinating with other agencies is very common in the sector, but for such cases, working efficiently and effectively is essential especially when many of these needs are vital.
In addition, sometimes, when members are facing many difficulties upon their release, they may feel frustrated and may seem to be difficult to engage. I always remind myself that anyone in their situation would feel similarly stressed and try to empathise with them. To calm them down, I try to be ‘bro-bro’ with them. Adopt a more friendly tone helps to build rapport! They need to know that you are genuinely interested in their well-being before trusting you.
Like ISCOS’ motto, “You’ve got a friend”, we have to be a friend to them.
What are some interesting hobbies/projects you have done outside of work?
I have been taking part in leisure rock climbing during weekends at various location such as Climb Central, Onsight Gym and Climb Asia for close to a year. Other than keeping fit, rock climbing helps me to destress too. Being a sporty person, I like the sense of accomplishment when I reach the top. When you climb, it is inevitable that you meet a difficult path and feel like you cannot go beyond the current climbing holds, but I always believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way. If you look at these rocks from a different perspective, and tell yourself that you can find a way out, you actually can do it – it’s tried and tested by me! Just like at work, you need that spirit of perseverance too, especially when you meet a difficult situation. All we need is to hang in there, have faith that things will work out, and voila – you’re on your way to success.
What is your greatest achievement? (E.g. can be anything you’ve accomplished in your co-op or outside of work)
Seeing members succeed and persevere when faced with obstacles fuels me to keep on going.
I was nominated to organise the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders (CARE) Network Seminar 2018. CARE Network is an alliance of various Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), government agencies and community agencies that hopes to ease the reintegration journey for ex-offenders and their families by collaborating with partners to coordinate various aftercare interventions.
I was honoured to be one of the speakers during the seminar to share about Project Reconnect where we leverage on technology to ensure that our members are not left behind in the adaptation to the ever-changing landscape of Singapore, especially as Singapore evolves into a smart nation. This gave me an opportunity to participate in something that I feel strongly for.
What advice would you give to aspiring co-operators?
To the young chaps, I would say: think about what you want to do. If you do not know what you want to do, try try try different things. It is ok not to know, but you must try! Eventually, you will find something you enjoy and want to do in life.