Caring for the homeless

Fatimah (seated centre) with participants of the workshop.

SIBU: Plans are afoot to set up an integrated one-stop centre called ‘Anggah Singgah’ to temporarily house and care for the homeless picked up in town during operations by state authorities.

Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the centre had been proposed to be built at the Maksak house in Jalan Sanyan.

“Previously when we conducted an integrated operation on the homeless here, we did not have a proper place to house them. This proposed Anggah Singgah for Sibu will allow the homeless to stay overnight where they will be given clothes, food and access to showers,” she said after officiating a two-day workshop to address social development issues involving the homeless.

Stressing that the centre was not a permanent home for the homeless, she said those at the temporary shelter would have to leave after receiving the necessary assistance.

“In Kuala Lumpur, the homeless have a place to stay overnight before leaving the next day to go about their business. It is the same here.

“We do not want them to sleep along five-foot ways but in a clean place where they can stay overnight while receiving food and clean clothes,” she said.

Fatimah said Anggah Singgah Sibu would be different from the one in Kuching.

“We want to make the centre here a benchmark for others to follow.

“We hope to get NGOs to help by providing food for the homeless on a sustainable basis,” she said.

The Sibu Resident Office has plans to renovate Maksak house to make it a suitable venue for the centre.

“We have the plan ready but are now awaiting funding.

“We hope corporate bodies can chip in,” she said.

From the 54 integrated operations against the homeless in the state from 2016 to 2018, 162 people were identified and rescued from the streets.

Fatimah said there were similarities with the homeless in Kuala Lumpur.

“There is a similarity as to why these people are on the streets, which includes family problem, mental issues, drugs and unemployment.

“The only difference is that the homeless here are mostly senior citizens whereas those in Kuala Lumpur belong to the younger age group,” she said.

As a long-term solution to help the homeless in Sarawak, especially the youth, she said they would be given skills training so that they can be independent.

The long-term goal, she said, was to have zero homeless people in the streets.

“This she added, could be achieved by having tailor-made programmes to suit the situation in the state.

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