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Getting a second chance at life

Singapore Prison Service aims to support ex-offenders through innovative initiatives like the Yellow Ribbon Project

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Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2019 five-km Fun Walk flag-off. From left: Jeffrey Beh Eng Siew, chairman of SACA; Lai Sui Chiu, member of Yellow Ribbon Fund; Wong Ai Ai, chairman of Yellow Ribbon Fund; Desmond Chin, commissioner of Prisons; Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore; Matthew Wee Yik Keong, CEO of SCORE; Wan Shung Ming, board member of SCORE; Thiagarajan s/o Subramaniam, board member of SCORE; and Abdul Rohim Bin Sarip, board member of SCORE.

STARTED in 2004, the Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP) seeks to engage the community in giving ex-offenders a second chance at life and to inspire more action to support them and their families.

YRP is spearheaded by the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network, and aims to improve the effectiveness of the rehabilitation of ex-offenders in Singapore through various initiatives.

One annual activity under YRP is the "Run for Second Chances" movement, a five-kilometre relay run for teams of four members each, which aims to give the runners an opportunity to show their support towards the movement.

The run debuted in 2016, with 13 teams comprising ex-offenders, family members and community partners.

This initiative drew inspiration from a similar relay race organised under the Czech Republic's inaugural Yellow Ribbon Run in May 2016.

The routes for the 2019 run, which took place in September, brought runners past various historical sites in the Changi area, such as the Changi Chapel Museum, the Johore Battery and the gates of the iconic Old Changi Prison Wall, before ending in the Changi Prison Complex.

According to YRP, "the run's undulating terrain is symbolic of the struggles that inmates and ex-offenders go through".

A Rehabilitation Fair that highlighted YRP's key activities over the year was held within the Changi Prison Complex in conjunction with the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.

The talent of various inmates were on show at the fair, such as a painting commemorating Singapore's bicentennial year.

Visitors to the event were able to meet ex-offenders to hear their personal stories, view "Letters from Behind the Wall" written by inmates currently serving their sentences, and were invited to pen down their responses to these letters.

The CARE Network is made up of Singapore Prison Service, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Ltd (ISCOS), Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF), Singapore After-Care Association (SACA) and Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA).

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