Sisters' platform to help vulnerable groups

V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR

The challenging times caused by Covid-19 have been "eye-opening" to sisters Nishka and Ayesha Menon.

The Singaporean pair were disturbed by the coronavirus' impact on the local community.

So, last month they created a platform to reach out to and support as many people as possible.

Their online platform hopebound (www.hopebound.one) caters to the needs of vulnerable groups.

"Our aim is to bridge the gap between the vulnerable communities and existing means of relief," said Ayesha, 17, a student at the United World College of Southeast Asia. "Many of these groups are not aware of the resources available to them.

"We want to make all these resources available to them free of charge in one space. We also have a mentorship programme for those who have recently lost their jobs."

The sisters offer holistic support.

The economically challenged and specially abled youth are provided access to food services, educational resources, physical wellness opportunities, career assistance and caretakers.

Victims of domestic violence get legal, psychological and spiritual assistance, while those who have lost their jobs are introduced to professionals who guide them through job searches and help them with their CVs.

Senior citizens can choose from a range of online resources to enhance their emotional well-being and build a virtual community.

"Senior citizens need online tools and training to make them more independent in this heavily virtually reliant time," said Nishka, 21, who is majoring in international relations at the Queen Mary University of London. "They have to build a virtual community with other seniors as they are deprived of face-to-face interactions."

The sisters have been spreading the word about their work through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"The response has been positive," said Nishka. "We have got professionals on board through our personal contacts and are currently providing support to between 20 and 40 people in each vulnerable group.

"As more people begin to use our programme, we can expand it and get more professionals to help."

Ayesha's school, UWCSEA East, has been particularly supportive of their initiative.

"The students and staff have helped to spread the word and get more support," said Ayesha.

"We are really encouraged by the backing we are getting.

"In the coming months, we hope to expand the platform to include all age groups.

"We also hope to include single parents, low-income families and teenagers and adults with mental health issues."

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