Help migrant workers in Singapore through these 10 organisations
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of many, but as with any social issue, the effects are disproportionate across different communities.
Some people are more vulnerable than others; for instance, migrant workers in Singapore.
Migrant workers have historically faced several issues in their employment; this article summarises the challenges they face, and names a few organisations that help migrant workers in Singapore.
Migrant workers faced several issues even before the pandemic; due to their transient nature, most employers see them as cheap, expendable labour that can be easily exploited.
Sourced from pxfuel
Furthermore, migrant workers are less inclined to report such workplace abuse, given that most are afraid of losing their jobs and their income, making them all the more prone to exploitation.
On top of facing such issues, they face the issue of homesickness and loneliness; with limited access to their families and long work hours, it is easy for migrant workers to feel alienated and drained.
They also face xenophobia and discrimination from locals. For instance, some locals have expressed displeasure over the locations of migrant worker dormitories, saying that it lowers property prices (also known as not in my backyard syndrome).
How COVID-19 Impacted Migrant Workers in Singapore
The aforementioned issues were only exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the crowded nature of dormitories, with several migrant workers packed in rooms together, the infection easily spread among them.
During mid-2020, when COVID cases were rising, it was noted that there were often 15 to 20 workers packed into a room with double-decker beds clustered together.
There was poor ventilation, and pre-COVID, the ratio was 15 men to a toilet and shower amenity.
Sourced from nytimes
In response to the living conditions of migrant workers and the increased xenophobia they faced when dormitories formed COVID-19 clusters, there was an outpouring of support online to improve their living conditions.
New organisations and movements were formed in an effort to help migrant workers alongside pre-existing ones.
While dormitories have been improved upon by the government, migrant workers still face various issues.
For more than 16 months since the pandemic began, migrant workers faced movement curbs; they were largely confined to their dormitories as they were not allowed to go outside.
Despite having access to a recreational centre in the dormitories, visits had to be scheduled in advance and were infrequent with the changing measures.
Another issue that has received attention lately is that of the safety of migrant workers; they are frequently packed into the back of lorries for transportation, which is highly unsafe.
With cases of workers being flung off lorries during traffic incidents increasing, it is no wonder that more and more people are demanding safer transportation.
There are numerous ways to help migrant workers in Singapore — you could volunteer at various migrant worker organisations or donate to them.
Solidarity and support manifest itself in different forms; if you are financially strapped or physically incapable of helping out, you could also sign the petition asking for safer transportation for migrant workers.
While the Ministry of Manpower has announced that they are planning on improving migrant workers’ dormitories, and are easing curb movements, improving the treatment of migrant workers is ultimately a long-term process that requires more voices and support.
Below is a list of organisations you can volunteer at, donate to and support to help migrant workers. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and that certain volunteering services may be regulated due to COVID-19 restrictions.
10 Organisations that Empower Migrant Workers
Sourced from HOME
HOME, which is short for the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics, is a charity dedicated to helping migrant workers who are abused or exploited (i.e. work injuries and wage theft).
Founded in 2004, HOME provides emergency care for workers and also provides long-term services such as counselling.
They provide subsidised dental services and outpatient treatment, as well as free legal aid to workers who require such services.
Sourced from itsrainingraincoats | Instagram
ItsRainingRaincoats is another non-profit organisation that aims to help migrant workers integrate into the community and improve their lives.
Their name symbolises the protection they intend to provide workers with during their metaphorical storms.
ItsRainingRaincoats provides services such as organising classes for migrant workers on first aid, as well as a program to befriend migrant workers so as to help them integrate better into Singapore.
Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2)
Sourced from twc2
Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2) is a non-profit organisation that promotes equitable treatment for migrant workers in Singapore.
They research migrant workers and related policies and are behind programmes such as The Cuff Road Project, which provides free meals to migrant workers out of jobs.
TWC2 engages with various stakeholders such as employers and businesses to protect the welfare of migrant workers. They also are involved in outreach efforts to raise awareness on the treatment of migrant workers.
Migrant x Me
Sourced from migrantxme
Migrant x Me is a non-profit social enterprise that seeks to raise awareness about migrant workers among youths in Singapore.
They offer school and corporate educational and interactive programmes that help them understand the challenges that migrant workers face.
They also extended a helping hand to migrant workers via COVID-19 relief efforts; they distributed care packs to migrant workers and raised funds to purchase necessities for them.
You can support them by volunteering or donating.
Humans Not Cargo
Humans Not Cargo is a movement that calls for safer transportation for migrant workers.
They are raising awareness on the transport incidents surrounding migrant workers, with the goal of abolishing such practices in the near future.
While not an organisation in the traditional sense, you can still help them spread their message by submitting pictures of migrant workers in lorries or sharing your thoughts on the matter.
COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition
Sourced from cmsc_sg | Instagram
The COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) is a group consisting of volunteers from Geylang Adventures, ItsRainingRaincoats, Singapore Migrant Friends and Migrant x Me. They have various programmes aimed at helping migrant workers.
They are involved in the WeEat campaign, in which they raise funds to purchase hawker food for migrant workers, effectively helping two groups that were severely impacted by the pandemic.
CMSC also provides casework support and engages with policymakers in an attempt to improve the treatment of migrant workers.
Welcome in my Backyard
Sourced from wimbysg
Welcome in my Backyard (WIMBY) is a volunteer-run campaign that raises awareness about the challenges that migrant workers face, with the primary aim of humanising them in society’s eyes.
It directly counters the “not in my backyard” syndrome that some Singaporeans have regarding migrant workers.
WIMBY has various initiatives to help and empower migrant workers and to make them feel welcome in Singapore; for instance, they have school partnerships where students reach out to the migrant workers in their neighbourhood.
You can reach out to them here.
Sourced from Healthserve
HealthServe is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping migrant workers by providing them “healing and hope”.
They provide healthcare and counselling services to workers and have partnered with schools and corporations to initiate research projects.
They have also launched Singapore’s first 24-hour crisis helpline for migrant workers, which workers or their employers and friends can use.
Friends of Migrant Workers
Sourced from friendsofmigrantworkers | Instagram
Friends of Migrant Workers is an online initiative that helps raise funds for migrant workers and is currently helping gather books for a donation drive. The books are to help workers destress while under movement curbs.
While not a traditional non-profit organisation, they also highlight other ongoing donation drives.
You can check their Instagram to see how you could help via donations.
Migrant Workers Center
Sourced from Migrant Workers’ Centre | Facebook
Migrant Workers Center (MWC), backed by the National Trades Union Congress, is a non-profit organisation that champions fair employment practices and the well-being of migrant workers in Singapore.
They provide a free legal clinic for workers to consult and collaborates with HealthServe for the Geylang Food Project, in which free meals are provided to migrant workers who have lost their jobs.
Helping migrant workers in Singapore
We hope that this article has proven helpful in your desire to help migrant workers in Singapore.
Other than signing petitions, writing emails, donating and volunteering, there are also other ways to support workers.
For instance, some organisations hold events for workers to display their talents and skills, providing them with a platform to connect with others and expressing their thoughts through art. Attending such events, or helping with the behind-the-scenes planning, would also be helpful.
Ultimately, the treatment of migrant workers is something that we are all responsible for. The pandemic has shed light on the challenges that they face working in Singapore; where possible, let us amplify their voices and help enact change.