More than just masks and hand sanitisers, the homeless needed education about the risks of the virus and how to protect themselves, said a Facebook post by Homeless Hearts of Singapore. Photo taken from their Facebook page.

More than just masks and hand sanitisers, the homeless need information on the risks of the coronavirus and how to protect themselves, said a Facebook post by Homeless Hearts of Singapore. All photos from their Facebook page.

Since the risk assessment level of the novel coronavirus outbreak rose to orange on February 7, many have opted to stay home to reduce the chances of contracting the infection.

But what about those who have no homes or access to the news?

On Saturday, a few volunteers from Homeless Hearts of Singapore (HHOS) took to the streets, giving out masks and hand sanitisers to the homeless, as well as taking their temperature, it said in a Facebook post today (February 10).

A handful of volunteers gave out masks and hand sanitisers to the homeless on Saturday. Photo taken from Homeless Hearts of Singapore's Facebook page.

A handful of volunteers gave out masks and hand sanitisers to the homeless on Saturday.

Volunteers from Homeless Hearts of Singapore during one of their fortnightly outreaches in May 2019.

“But more than just giving out, we realised … that many of our homeless friends needed education more than masks. In fact, many of them declined the masks that were given out for free.

“We need to educate them, teach them skills to cope and look out for their symptoms,” read the post.

“We’re persuading our homeless friends to move into Safe Sound Sleeping Places so they can receive more resources.”

One of the organisation’s core volunteers, who is a registered nurse, also registered six homeless people with Mount Alvernia Outreach Medical Clinic for free medical healthcare and encouraged them to visit one of its two outlets if they feel unwell.

While HHOS has suspended their fortnightly activities due to the outbreak, they said they will continue to keep in touch with the homeless through WhatsApp or at their own initiative.

“We’re also working with PEERS (a network of organisations that helps the homeless) to persuade as many of our homeless friends to move into Safe Sound Sleeping Places sooner so that they can receive more resources and support in the event Dorscon Red does happen.”

HHOS founder Abraham Yeo, 38, told Salt&Light: “If we see the homeless on the street, we can give food and water and ask them how their health is – these are simple but thoughtful ways that we can help.”

Yeo, a Christian, founded HHOS after realising that there is a group of people in Singapore who sleep rough in void decks, playgrounds and 24-hour cafes. 

In 2014, Yeo and a friend started the non-profit group to befriend and give food and drink to rough sleepers. 

Click here if you would like to find out more or volunteer.

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If you have new surgical masks or hand sanitisers that you would like to donate, you may do so here.

About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.

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