Youths living in rental flats feel empowered when engaged with their communities: Study

The research showed that Beyond's efforts were fruitful.

Jonathan Lim | November 21, 2018, 06:41 PM

A research commissioned by volunteer group Beyond Social Services (BSS) has found that keeping rental flat youths engaged with their communities led to better outcomes for the youths and their community.

The research project looked at how children, youths, and their parents living in three different HDB rental estates viewed their living conditions as well as other factors including personal empowerment, neighbourliness, and support from the community.

It also assessed BSS' Youth United Programme's (YUP) impact on those neighbourhoods.

Developing communities

YUP aimed to help residents by engaging youths to build communities and support networks within the rental estates.

Initiatives include YUP volunteers starting interest groups, such as sports clubs and free tuition classes, to keep youths and residents engaged.

YUP volunteers would subsequently encourage the youths to take lead in their own projects to sustain engagement.

Volunteers would also facilitate interaction among neighbours to build up a sense of community.

YUP has been running for the past 9 years.

It works

According to a BSS media release, the research project conducted by Blackbox Research found that just six months of help from BSS had an "uplifting effect on a youth's outlook on life".

The research involved conducting two surveys over the period of a year to track outcomes in neighbourhoods where BSS had programmes. A control group that had no BSS intervention was also surveyed in the same period.

The results confirmed that a "longer presence of community-based interventions and higher engagement across a range of activities increase positive outcomes for young people and their families".

The research revealed that with BSS engaging youths in rental flat estates, the youths said that they felt increased safety for themselves, that neighbours were friendlier to them, and they are better able to handle their own problems and manage conflict within their family.

For caregivers and parents of these youths, the BSS' engagement has also increased their perception of safety of their children in the community as well as an improved perception of their current life situation.

Gerard Ee, Executive Director of BSS, said: "This research proves that a community-building approach is extremely valuable in transforming the lives of children and youth from low-income neighbourhoods. In grappling with poverty and inequality in our society, we look to what people can do when they come together".

Top image from Beyond Social Services