The YWCA was founded in 1875 by a British missionary, Miss Sophia Cooke to provide a support group for women. She started by organising self-improvement classes for a group of young Chinese women from overseas, which later became St. Margaret’s School. Through the years, YWCA has been the pioneer and catalyst in meeting the needs of Singapore’s society through its community involvement and in the development and enrichment of women’s lives in Singapore.
- A hostel was set up to provide a home for young working girls employed in the city.
- A Business & Professional Women’s Club was started to give a voice to the growing ranks of working women and to provide them with a support network.
- The YWCA begun a play school for children of squatters & working women.
- In the early days of industrialisation in Singapore, many foreign girls (especially Malaysians) came over to work, however the welfare of these girls were often neglected. In 1970, the YWCA spearheaded a scheme to house these girls in Jurong, providing them with safe shelter, and looked after their spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
- The Adult Day Centre was started.
- The Meals-on-Wheels and Financial Assistance Scheme were initiated.
- YWCA embarked on a Family Link Scheme to provide the family link and touch to children from disadvantaged families. The Family Link Scheme was launched in November 2002 with the children from The Haven, a Salvation Army’s home for children in need of care.
- Flexible Childcare programmes were introduced in the Childcare Centres.
- “YES U can…..be included!” Integration Programme and an Educational Support Unit were established specifically for children with special needs (mild).
- The Social Enterprise Committee (SEC) was formed to develop and set up a social enterprise a “business with a social mission”. The purpose of the social enterprise is to help women and their families in the community to increase their value and financial independence.
- The Infant Care Services Unit opened its doors to welcome the first infant in November 2004.
- The YWCA turned 130 and celebrated with the following events:-
- March – The launch of the “Gallery of Faith, Work & Deed” by Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Minister of State, Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports. This “Heritage Centre” showcases the history of the YWCA and is sited at the lobby of the YWCA Fort Canning Lodge.
- April – A Peranakan lunch and play entitled “Tunggu-Tunggu, Buah Jatuh Tak?” featuring the YWCA’s very own “Peranakan Theatreworks”.
- May – 130th Anniversary Celebration Dinner with Guests of Honour, President and Mrs S.R.Nathan.
- July – 130th Anniversary Charity Golf with Guest of Honour, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts.
- July hosted the World YWCA Asia Regional training Institute’s week long seminar.
- August – Joint Thanksgiving Service with Wesley Methodist Church.
- September – Official launch of the “Yes U can….. be included!” Integration Programme and the Education Support Unit by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education.
- The YWCA launched the Meals-On-Wheels for Children on 31 July. This is the first of its kind in Singapore. The programme provides free nutritious dinner from Mondays to Fridays to children from low-income families at their schools, social service centres or homes.
- The YWCA Kids’ Club, a literacy and mentorship programme, was started on 31 March to provide a more holistic approach to help the children on the ’Meals-On-Wheels programme.
- In continuation with the rich culinary heritage and the tradition of publishing cookbooks, the Association published another cookbook in 2007, entitled “Sharing From Our Hearts”. This cookbook is a fund raising project of the YWCA and all sale proceeds go towards the support of the Association’s community services and programmes. The cookbook was officially launched at the Donors’ Appreciation Dinner held in December.
- A family support scheme was started in June to help the mothers of the children on the Meals-On-Wheels programme to improve their knowledge and skills so that they can look forward to better employment prospects and hence an improvement in their financial situation. Talks and workshops on financial management, parenting skills and other topics that will help in their personal growth and development as well provide support for their family, will also be organised for these mothers. We will also collaborate with the NTUC Women's Development Secretariat to provide subsidised training and job placement for our disadvantaged mothers.
- The Group Befriending Scheme was started on 1 August for children on the Meals-On-Wheels programme who are unable to attend the YWCA Kids’ Club for various reasons. The Scheme aims to provide a positive adult role-model for its members and to help them learn appropriate social, coping and other life skills in various settings; and to develop and enhance his/her confidence and self-esteem.
- Following the success of the cookbook published in 2007, the Association published a 14-month desktop calendar for the year 2009/2010, featuring 14 dessert recipes. This is yet another fund raising initiative of the YWCA whereby all sale proceeds go towards the support of the YWCA’s community services and programmes.
- CraftWorks, a project launched to help disadvantaged women who are unable to find work due to their role as main caregivers of their families to improve their livelihood. Handicraft skills are imparted to the women and materials provided to them so that they may fabricate marketable handicrafts for sale.
- Connexion, a support group formed to provide programmes and services to enrich the lives of foreign women living and working in Singapore and to assist them to adjust and integrate into the community.
- In commemoration of the YWCA’s 135th Anniversary in 2010, the Association launched a food diary based on the theme ‘Celebrations’. This inaugural food and recipes diary featured 12 wonderful and delectable celebratory dishes which are representative of the various monthly festive occasions. This is yet another fund raising initiative by the YWCA.
- The YWCA collaborated with the prestigious TWG Tea Company to offer an exquisite limited edition Earl Grey Tea blended by TWG Tea Company for sale. All proceeds from the sale of the tea will go towards the support of the YWCA’s community services and programmes.
The YWCA turned 135 and celebrated with the following events:-
- September – A “Cook-Out” event where volunteers and staff came together in concerted effort to cook a special meal for over 200 beneficiaries of our Hungry No More (Meals-On-Wheels for Elderly and Children) programmes
- November – 135 Anniversary Celebrations Dinner, with Guest-of-Honour, Immediate Past President, Ms Tan Kee Leng.
For further integration of IT in preschool centres, the YWCA collaborated with Lien Foundation for the implementation of Project IngoT Preschool. The building of a main learning laboratory at the YWCA Headquarters in Outram was completed in 2009 while the resource laboratories for each of the 11 pre-school centres commenced in early 2010.
In mid 2010, the Fort Canning Lodge embarked on a major upgrading of its premises and facilities. Refurbishment works will be carried out in all guest rooms, function/meeting rooms as well as the Coffee House and are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011.
The Hungry No More (Sustenance for Families) Programme was started in July. This programme distributes dry rations on a monthly basis to needy families living in designated areas such as Redhill, Bukit Merah, Bendemeer Road and Indus Road, and who are not receiving any form of assistance from Senior Activity Centres and/or Family Service Centres. For the elderly who are semi-mobile, the YWCA will also provide house cleaning services to help clean up their homes so that they will have a safe and comfortable place to live in.
A Bursary Scheme for children on the Hungry No More (Meals-On-Wheels for Children) Programme who have performed well in their studies was launched in November. The children are given a one-off reward consisting of both monetary and non-monetary incentives as a form of motivation so that they will continue to work hard in school and strive for further excellence.
The media launch of Project IngoT Preschool was held at the YWCA Outram Centre in April. Representatives from Lien Foundation as well as some members of the media attended the launch which showcased the facilities of the laboratories.
Caring Unit, an extension of the Sustenance for Families was launched. Unlike the Saturday programme, the distribution of dry rations are carried out once a month on week days. The dry rations distributed to each family are customised and packed according to their individual needs.