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TAKING HEART

Playing a role in helping both the young and old

IFPAS run organised to commemorate 50th anniversary and to raise funds for children and adults with special needs

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From left: Allen Lim, 2nd vice-president (education and training) of IFPAS; Jenny Teo, chief financial advisory officer of Manulife; Erik Yeo, Lead, Regional Agency and Financial Advisors, Great Eastern; Melita Teo, chief operating officer of AIA; Leong Sow Hoe, president of IFPAS;Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry; Wilfred Blackburn, CEO of Prudential; Jean Drouffe, CEO of AXA; and Andrew Yeo, general manager of NTUC Income.

Singapore

ON March 17, more than 3,000 financial services practitioners in Singapore turned up at Marina Barrage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (IFPAS) by taking part in the inaugural IFPAS run.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, the event's guest of honour, flagged off the 5km run.

Commemorating such milestones are not only an accessible way to celebrate a storied history, but it also served as an opportunity for IFPAS to play its role in giving back to society.

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Proceeds from ticket sales for the run were donated to the IFPAS Love Fund, which was started in 2018 to support children and adults with special needs through IFPAS member donations.

Speaking to The Business Times, IFPAS president Leong Sow Hoe said: "The IFPAS Love Fund fulfils one of the core pillars of IFPAS which is social engagement, and funds raised go a long way towards helping the underprivileged members of society."

To date, IFPAS has raised around S$70,000 through the fund, which is managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore.

But the association's responsibility efforts are not limited to one-off or singular drives. The association regularly works with partners like the People's Association (PA).

Since 2017, IFPAS has collaborated with the PA through the IFPAS-PA Signature Programme on initiatives that include promoting a better understanding of healthcare planning for seniors, and in the mentorship of children and the youth.

Under their "Understanding Healthcare Planning" workshop series, IFPAS and PA co-organised six instalments of healthcare planning workshops where over 850 seniors have gained a better understanding of public and private healthcare schemes.

Mr Leong said: "It is also significant for IFPAS to contribute their industry expertise to enable the elderly to learn more about healthcare planning." It is a topic close to seniors' hearts but they might not have enough of an understanding of, and IFPAS wants to help them to clarify their doubts, he added.

On top of healthcare planning workshops, IFPAS works with children and youth through the PA Befrienders Programme.

Mr Leong explains: "It is one of our pillars to provide active community service through our outreach programmes and the PA Signatures Programme presents a meaningful platform for us to do so by mentoring youths and giving them guidance."

The befriending programme takes a culinary-themed take on the befriending experience and was held with the Allspice Cooking Institute. In a show of inter-generational cohesion, volunteers from IFPAS paired up with over 100 children to whip up simple meals, which were prepared for the elderly.

Mr Leong said: "This programme allowed us to mentor the children while teaching them how to be independent through cooking." Meanwhile, Jeanie Tan, the PA's Group Director (Partnership) said: "Such collaborative befriending programmes provided a channel for IFPAS volunteers to serve as 'big brothers and sisters' role models, as well as friends to the young beneficiaries" .

IFPAS will continue to work with PA through the newly-launched IFPAS-PA Signature Programme in 2019.

Since 2015, IFPAS has also been actively involved in providing 1-to-1 pro bono MediShield Life Consultation in community centres across the country. "We leveraged on our expertise and experience to offer impartial advice to those who want to know more about the specifics of MediShield Life. Since the launch in 2015, 8537 residents from 89 CCs who have benefited from this project with the help of more than 700 volunteers," Mr Leong explained.

Going forward, IFPAS intends to make further inroads with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), an organisation it first worked with in 1987. Since late 2018, IFPAS volunteers have accompanied patients for their dialysis treatments at NKF centres and forged friendships with them along the way.