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The impact of COVID-19 on Singapore’s low-income families

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t new news to us as we gradually transit to a new normal, or rather a state of “never normal”. The start of the Circuit Breaker period in Singapore on 7 April had signalled the gravity of the situation. For most of us, it was a period of pursuing newfound hobbies such as baking sourdough bread or sweating through Chloe Ting workouts. However, the pandemic has drastically changed the lives of low-income families, and NOT for the better.

Work from Home

In this new state of never normal, the boundaries between work and leisure are increasingly being blurred. The practice of working from home has been gaining traction, and 80% of working Singaporeans actually prefer this new arrangement. After all, what’s not to love? Time is saved on commuting, employees can wake up five minutes before their zoom meetings, and work is done efficiently  all in the comfort of one’s home. Even students get to enjoy such privileges with e-learning becoming the main mode of learning. 

Photo by Wouter Beijert on Unsplash 

 

But what if your home didn’t have a stable wifi connection? Or it isn’t even a conducive workspace at all? We often treat a stable Internet connection and a peaceful work space as a given, however the reality of Nur Nadirah Friday, a 27-year-old student shows us otherwise. To escape from the noise from her family members in her flat, she made do with a makeshift study corner outside her HDB rental flat.  

Photo from BERITAmediacorp/ Nurulkhasanah Agost

 

This pandemic has also shed light on the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor in Singapore. While some children may have proper desks and chairs at home to do their assignments and attend lessons online, others sprawl on the floor to complete their assignments. While some children have their own bedrooms to have a conducive environment, others seek refuge at stairwells to escape from the noise at home.  

Photo from CNA
 

Employment

Other than work productivity, the low-income are also the hardest hit in terms of employment. The outbreak has affected employment in manufacturing, construction, and service industries the most. This means that low-income individuals are disproportionately affected in these industries, and ultimately end up losing their jobs. Combined with the soaring electricity bills due to family members staying at home due to the Circuit Breaker, low-income families find themselves in a tight spot. 

Role of social enterprises

Social enterprises play an essential role in helping vulnerable groups, especially during crises such as the pandemic we are facing today. In Myrtle, we help low-income mothers who are struggling to find employment that suit their current needs. Click here to find out more about how we do this!

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