We often hear of the Yellow Ribbon Project and its annual Yellow Ribbon Run, but the invisible hero behind the multiple meaningful initiatives borne out of the Yellow Ribbon movement is the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE). SCORE is a statutory board under the Ministry of Home Affairs that plays a vital role in the Singapore correctional system through its four main building blocks—training, work, employment assistance, and community engagement.
In reality, inmates do not stay as inmates forever. Serving their sentence is just a transitional phase to reflect and turn over a new leaf. What makes this process more meaningful is garnering the support of the people around them to embrace them despite their pasts.
However, nothing beats the collective power of corporations stepping in to take the lead in exemplifying what it means to be inclusive and offering ex-offenders a leg-up in life. If most businesses partake in this road to rehabilitation, the journey will be much more bearable—for the ex-inmates, the society, and their loved ones.
In this article, we look at five businesses that underscore one of the important visions of the Yellow Ribbon Project—to raise awareness of the need to give second chances to ex-offenders and their families.
Situated in Changi Prison Cluster A and Cluster B, SCORE bakery is made up of a medley of baking equipment and machinery where inmates work as pâtissiers. While learning a new skill, they also earn their keep amidst serving their time.
With approximately 120 inmates donned in white baker outfit, SCORE bakery churns out an assortment of dough products daily for retail Food & Beverage business.
For years, Ya Kun Kaya Toast has been a fervent customer of SCORE. Through supporting the bakehouse, it gives them a platform to be skilled and indirectly empowering the inmates with confidence. So, the next time you get your kaya roti, remember the proficient bakers behind the production line—the true roti masters!
This unlikely duo is the protagonist behind a functioning central kitchen in the Changi Prison Complex. Together, Samsui and SCB have collectively set up the central kitchen by leveraging on their complementary strengths. In essence, Samsui uses its food & beverage experience to train inmates in culinary skills and plans to employ them upon their release. SCB, on the other hand, contributes financially to the project and equips the kitchen with advanced facilities and technologies.
The kitchen engages around 30 inmates to prepare up to 6,000 meals for non-profit centres and nursing homes daily across Singapore. Besides funding the infrastructure to provide a conducive working environment, inmates are also equipped with new vocational skills in the process.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL), too, is an advocate for giving a second chance. Their holistic inclusivity initiatives involve providing employment, rendering in-house skills training programmes, and a strong mentorship structure to equip, guide, and support the ex-offenders.
Besides in-house training programmes, all employees—regardless of your pasts—are encouraged to upgrade and pursue higher education to prepare themselves adequately for their current and future potential roles.
An epitome of giving second chances is seeing beyond the lenses of judgement and focusing on the now. What more? There are beautiful living testimonies of ex-convicts who have attained career progression and currently on their manager training with CBTL!
Being a firm believer in empowering people through the gift of knowledge, Acronis is a long-term comrade with the Yellow Ribbon Foundation to fund and provide certified IT training to ex-offenders.
Being a leading backup software data firm, it stewards its IT expertise to good use. To date, more than 30 ex-offenders have undergone the training conducted by Acronis and they have attained WSQ ICDL certificates. A graduation ceremony was held and families of the ex-offenders were invited to celebrate this milestone of achievement with them.
Apart from IT skills, volunteers and staff from the company also imparts soft skills such as interviewing techniques and CV crafting, to ease their journey of reintegration into the society.
Families of offenders may not be serving the penalty of crime, but they are toiling through the emotional punishment of witnessing and having their loved ones away from them. More than an emotional distress, reports showed that families of inmates experience social stigmatisation, often “guilty by association” and lasting negative behaviours on the children due to separation from parental imprisonment. This impact is apparent during the child’s growth and increased their likelihood of developing deviant self-identification front.
By engaging over 83 families and 120 children, the child-centric programmes involve reading, tuition, and befriending. Apart from helping children develop academically, it helps children to cope emotionally and psychologically with family transitions. In turn, these initiatives help to demonstrate pro-social behaviours and develop a more positive relationship with people around them.
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