Giving Back to Society – A Core Part of NatSteel’s DNA

The spirit of giving – whether through financial support or volunteering – has long been in-built into NatSteel’s DNA. Such is evident through their policies like leave for employees to [...]

During a time when many corporates were struggling to cope amid the COVID-19 situation, the team at SPD received a pleasant surprise from a long-time corporate partner.

Early this year in January, Ms Tan Man Ee, NatSteel’s Chief Operating Officer had reached out to see how SPD was doing during the pandemic and shared the good news that they would continue to support SPD through the Bursary and Empowerment Award, despite the company’s own business challenges.

The heart-warming gesture was but one of the ways that demonstrated NatSteel’s keen and sincere interest in the communities it was serving.

As one of the beneficiaries of NatSteel’s giving journey, SPD’s relationship with the leading steel producer in Southeast Asia started back in 2007.

“We specially chose SPD as one of our key CSR (corporate social responsibility) partners as we believe in the same vision that our contribution can impact the lives of people with disabilities and help build a more inclusive Singapore. Through our partnership with SPD, we are able to play a role in helping SPD’s beneficiaries to transit into mainstream society,” said Ms Tan.

Empowering Students with Disabilities Through Educational Support

Bursary award recipients at presentation ceremony

With a firm belief that education will pave the way for children to have a brighter future, and consequently lift their families out of poverty, NatSteel has contributed over $1 million to date to support students with disabilities. More than 1,000 NatSteel-SPD Bursary Awards were given out over the past 14 years.

The enduring support from NatSteel signals its commitment to uplift the vulnerable in the community. The bursary award has also become a constant source of support that the students with disabilities and their families look to for their education journey.

More recently, NatSteel proactively initiated a review of the bursary criteria in view of the impact that the pandemic would bring to low-income families with members who have a disability. Working closely with SPD, NatSteel has increased the quantum of the awards and enabled more students to qualify for the bursary. 

Steering Youth with Disabilities Towards Their Dreams Through Mentorship

On top of the bursaries, NatSteel also supported youth with disabilities from disadvantaged families whom they handpicked to develop further through the NatSteel-SPD Empowerment Awards. The Empowerment Award was evolved from the SPD Youth Aspiration Award which NatSteel supported from 2014 to 2018.

Beyond the monetary support of $10,000 for the students to pursue their aspirations, staff from NatSteel also personally mentored them. By guiding the students and their families in achieving their goals, the team hopes to create a deeper impact on the individuals’ lives.

18-year-old Keith Tan was one of the NatSteel Bursary Award recipients who was selected to benefit from the NatSteel-SPD Empowerment Award.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was one, Keith had to work harder than most peers to overcome physical and environmental challenges. But this only serves to motivate Keith to strive towards his dream of developing an app for fellow persons with disabilities to live independently.

Keith working on his laptop

As he embarked on his Higher Nitec course in IT applications development, he is thankful for the award which has helped him to get the devices needed for his education. For instance, he used a portion of the funds to get a laptop, which has enabled him to work on his IT web application development projects, leading to better results.

Besides financial support and mentorship, NatSteel has also offered Keith an internship opportunity at the IT department of the company.

Keith (in blue) with his mother and mentors Mr Ganesh Krishnaswamy (in green checked shirt) and  Mr Edmund Cai (in black) from NatSteel

“The NatSteel-SPD Empowerment Awards has opened up great learning opportunities for me. I am excited to begin my internship at NatSteel in October, under the guidance of my mentor,” shared Keith.

Bringing Cheer to Persons with Disabilities

Day Activity Centre clients with NatSteel volunteers in an outing
NatSteel employees volunteering with SPD’s Day Activity Centre

The spirit of giving – whether through financial support or volunteering – has long been in-built into NatSteel’s DNA. Such is evident through their policies like leave for employees to participate in community involvement activities. 

Since the start of our partnership, NatSteel employees have actively participated in every bursary awards ceremony, helping in areas such as reception, caregiving, and manning of games and food stalls.

In 2011, the NatSteel volunteers started to visit the SPD Day Activity Centre (DAC) regularly to bring cheer and befriend our clients with higher care needs. In the last 13 years, the NatSteel employees clocked in almost 3,000 volunteer hours at SPD, interacting and attending to the needs of SPD clients and helping out in SPD’s events.

2 SPD Sheltered Workshop trainees holding up grocery vouchers
SPD Sheltered Workshop trainees received vouchers donated by NatSteel

To help persons with disabilities from low-income families tide through the pandemic, NatSteel has also contributed over $3,600 worth of grocery vouchers to our DAC and Sheltered Workshop beneficiaries for two years since last year.

“The vouchers contributed by NatSteel have benefited 30 low-income families whose child or ward attends our DAC. These were supplements to their income, helping them to buy daily necessities such as groceries and adult diapers for their care recipient. Our DAC families are very appreciative of the goodwill behind the giving of the vouchers,” said Ms Clara Loh, assistant manager of SPD’s Day Activity Centre.

Besides SPD, other beneficiaries who have benefitted from NatSteel’s giving include Food from The Heart and Fernvale Garden School.

For Ms Tan and her colleagues at NatSteel, the most rewarding part of their corporate philanthropy and volunteering journey comes from knowing that their efforts have made a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities.

“We love reading the thank you messages and testimonials from the Bursary Awards and Empowerment Awards recipients. Our employees have also benefited from their contributions and participation in these volunteering activities,” she said.

Encouraging other corporates to come onboard the giving scene, Ms Tan said: “Contributing to the social and economic development of Singapore is as important as touching the lives of people. We would like to encourage others to focus on empowering the underprivileged and marginalised children and adults to build their self-belief. Together, we can help to ease their transition into society.”

With its many exemplary efforts over the years, it is strong testament that NatSteel’s commitment in empowering persons with disabilities is for the long-haul.