“My name is Shahriza, I am a mother of two kids and 10 cats. I have known Beyond since early 2015 when my kids started participating in their outdoor programmes and art classes. A Beyond volunteer asked me one day if I’m keen to join Family Circles and I agreed since I had some spare time and wanted to meet new friends. To be honest, I also have social anxiety, and I wanted a safe space to slowly build up my confidence and heal myself. I was quite nervous the first time I had to introduce myself, but I managed to do it. I found out that there are so many families that are different from mine, I learned more about what their daily life is like and what problems they face.
My experience with Family Circles has been great and we feel like a family already. There was even a member who helped me apply for Medifund for my hospital bills. Every zoom had its memorable moments. The most memorable moment for me was when everyone gave me motivation after knowing about my illness. They were very supportive and even gave me resources to help me with healing. I talked to them about the passing of my sister, how I was depressed and even resorted to self-harm. The words they spoke really brought back my willpower even though we were still strangers to each other at the time. They really lifted me up and made me realise my late sister wouldn’t want me to suffer. One of the members said “It’s okay for you to grieve. You can continue to grieve, but at the same time life has to move on.” So not only do I get support from my family members, but I get support from the Beyond team and Family Circles too. Now I realise that no matter what I do, I can’t bring my sister back, but I can continue to fight for her and her children.
I give motivation to them too. We help each other. I was so happy to find out one of them was pregnant, we were all excited for her when she shared the news. I also shared with them about Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Family Service Centre as a resource if they need a social worker with whom you can share your problems, as I had a very positive experience with my social worker from the organisation.
Family Circles brings so many benefits. It’d be so good if every neighbourhood in Singapore had Family Circles. We can join forces, help each other, get to know each other, think of how to help other families. Sometimes instead of focusing on the topics, we can’t help but chit-chat. 2 hours just doesn’t seem enough. I told them during a zoom meeting, “We all have so much to say, imagine if we meet live! Confirm happening!” Then we came up with the idea of potluck and I hope we can do that soon.”
– Shahriza, Community member and Family Circles participant
Support programmes such as Family Circles so that members like Shahriza can continue to find meaningful friendships and community: bit.ly/bssbuildingblocks