How do you combat loneliness among older folk? The FUN! Fund – a partnership between Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) – hopes to do this by piloting activities that encourage play, generate laughter and build connections. It’s a fresh approach towards reframing the ageing challenge and a promising effort at collaborative philanthropy.
The brand-new fund has struck a chord with CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand Group. Established in 2005, the foundation seeks to improve the quality of life of seniors. It also aims to nurture and inspire the young and protect the environment for future generations.
“We believe that each older person deserves to live life to the fullest as they age in place and in the community. However, there are vulnerable seniors in the community who face daily life challenges such as mobility difficulties, isolation, and lack of adequate support due to family circumstances,” says Ms Lydia Ang, General Manager of CapitaLand Hope Foundation.
Loneliness is a serious issue for our elderly. It erodes mental and physical well-being and can even reduce lifespans. In mid-2021, a study by the Centre for Ageing Research and Education at Duke-NUS found that those aged 60 and above who see themselves as lonely can expect to live three to five years less compared to their peers who don’t feel lonely. The study, also found that a third of aged 60–69 years and 40% of those aged 80 and above perceived themselves as lonely. Those are sobering statistics indeed.
Two years of living under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made things much worse. Many older folks stayed home. Being less tech-savvy, they had to grapple with severe social isolation. Those in nursing and care homes saw a stark drop in visitors. Many caregiving staff shows increased burnout and psychological distress in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The FUN! Fund plans to empower community care organisations to collaborate with different stakeholder to develop fun and meaningful activities that seniors can look forward to. There will be development of playbook and post running workshops to share learnings for other organisations to replicate and implement.
CHF got to know about the FUN! Fund through its previous links with AIC and CFS. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, the foundation generously contributed S$700,000 to provide emergency support for community care providers and affected seniors and family members. For CHF, the FUN! Fund dovetails with its efforts to help seniors age in place through its #LoveOurSeniors initiative, which provides the vulnerable elderly with better nutrition, enhanced well-being and improved living conditions.
Tapping on its experience from #LoveOurSeniors, and by working jointly with AIC and CFS, the foundation believes it can help develop innovative programmes that bring cheer to isolated seniors. It also hopes to rally more like-minded partners and the community to join in this effort.
“Through FUN! Fund, multiple donors from different sectors are galvanised to pool and align funding against an agreed set of criteria within a short period of time. This has allowed smaller enterprises to leverage the larger network and platform of FUN! Fund to do good together, as they might not have sufficient resources to effectively contribute to the community on their own,” says Ms Ang.
The FUN! Fund is an example of a pooled fund spearheaded by CFS. Our collective impact funds are designed to raise capital from across the giving spectrum and unite partners to drive positive change. We bring together charities and donors, experience and insights, which amplifies the impact of giving and fosters new solutions.
No individual or organisation can solve complex social issues independently, and private foundations like CHF are embracing collaborative philanthropy. “We believe in the power of the collective, where different stakeholders with respective expertise, knowledge and skills come together as one, leveraging each other’s strengths and resources for the common good. Through the years, we have been rallying our employees, tenants, customers and the wider community to do good together,” says Ms Ang.