For the 5.6 million people who live in Singapore, home reflects a connection to a community and the continuation of time-honoured practices and memories. Exploring these unique and intimate connections is at the heart of My Community Festival (MCF), a ground-up community event from 5 to 21 August 2022.

Organised by the non-profit organisation, My Community, with support from the Singapore Tourism Board, the third edition of the festival centres on the theme of ‘My Home Sweet Home’ and will give festival-goers exclusive access to the private spaces of the many communities in Singapore, including their homes, workplaces, places of worship, and communal spaces. This year’s programme will also spotlight three neighbourhoods which will become “festival villages”, and feature workshops and thought-provoking tours that allow visitors to discover more about the area’s history and uncover hidden gems.

This year’s line-up is the biggest, with 64 unique and riveting tours and experiences split across eight programme series. Each programme will be led by a member of the community who can bring different perspectives and understanding of home and community as they share intimate memories and knowledge about their personal spaces.

This year’s anchor programme series is “My Home, Truly”, which pays tribute to the different types of homes in Singapore. Tour participants will get to meet various groups of people ranging from foreign workers, animal shelter workers and students who will take them to the places where they lay their heads in. Participants can look forward to visiting spaces including a foreign worker dormitory, Singapore’s last kampung, and rental flats in Jalan Besar to hear heartwarming stories about creating homes out of these diverse housing types.

Kampong Buangkok with Kyanta Yap

This year’s festival also includes several new programmes that provide perspectives on how people keep memories of home alive. For people who hold on to broken items for sentimental value, “Find My Fixer” offers participants an opportunity to restore them to their original state or find a new lease of life while doing their part to live sustainably and reduce waste in Singapore. This includes workshops with a soft toy “doctor”, kintsugi artist or teaware design for ceramics, and even a stained glass rescuer. The programme also offers an opportunity to meet Singapore’s own version of Marie Kondo, Amanda Ling, who can help revive spaces with the art of decluttering.

Teaware Designer Alvin Ng

Festival goers can discover how expatriate communities recreate pockets of their home to form unofficial enclaves like Little Belgium, Little Philippines and Little Taiwan under “My Little Singapore”. Besides learning about their culture and their recommendations on where to find the most authentic taste of their hometown cuisine, participants can take the chance to reflect and appreciate how these communities contribute to Singapore’s identity as a melting pot.

Another programme, “What’s for My Dinner?” takes it a step further by having members of 20 Singaporean, ASEAN and international families, welcome visitors into their homes to serve up cultural dishes ranging from local fare, regional cuisine from Thai and Vietnamese food, to international flavours like African, Maharashtrian and Northern Chinese food.

Another new aspect of the festival is the introduction of three festival villages as part of the “My Lovely Neighbourhood” series of programmes. For each of the three weekends during the festival duration, the festival will spotlight a locale in Singapore to learn about its thriving community through a series of immersive tours, workshops, experiences and performances that are a result of My Community’s extensive community mapping exercise within these neighbourhoods.

My Thailand Dinner with Mita Kelder

For the first week, festival-goers can head to the quaint seaside town of Changi Village to get acquainted with its wartime history and the variety of shops and eateries. This is followed by a focus on Singapore’s largest motor repair village, Alexandra Village, which is also home to well-known hawkers and unique craftsmen like rattan weavers to glass installers; and lastly, the iconic Chinatown, where visitors can immerse themselves in the unique shophouses, discover the various clans’ associations and the mouthwatering food available.

Hello! My Alexandra Village

Each festival village will feature three unique self-guided tours that can be accessed through My Community’s community map, comprising a main storyboard and wayfinding signages, allowing visitors to explore curated trails that capture different facets of these neighbourhoods. On the days when the festival village is running, visitors are encouraged to speak to the community stakeholders with stickers on their storefronts and get to know them better and attend co-curated workshops to get up close and personal with their trade.

Returning favourites such as Welcome to My Island Home, My Prayers and Practices, and After Hours @ My Community, have also been refreshed to align with this year’s theme, offering new and returning festival-goers an opportunity to discover the best that the festival has to offer from previous editions.

Welcome to My Island Home: Discover the gems out of the city in a morning walk along six offshore islands led by ex-islanders and hear the stories of their beloved island communities. On top of visiting known islands like Pulau Ubin and Kusu Island, look out for special tours to visit transient islands like Pulau Hantu, and an exclusive tour into the Pacific Light Power Station on Jurong Island.

My Pulau Hantu with Richard Kuah

My Prayers and Practices: Singapore is home to individuals of different races, languages, and religions. From the Jains and Zoroastrians to the Jews and Theravada Buddhists, join us on a journey to the places of worship of all 10 major religions in Singapore and learn about their cultures and practices. Additionally, there are private tours showcasing home-based rituals such as Seventh Month rituals at a shophouse, Eng Tiang Huat, and Baháʼí devotees introducing how prayers and practices are conducted differently in their homes!

Hougang Dou Mu Gong with Dr Ji Ling

After Hours @ My Community: The city never sleeps with our unsung heroes keeping Singapore going at night while the rest of us sleep! Join in on a night walk around the spaces including Bukit Brown Cemetery that comes alive at night, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of some bustling hotspots, including Mandai Wildlife Reserve and Jurong Fishery Port.

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When you think of England, you might immediately think of Buckingham Palace, English Breakfast Tea, and a refined way of life. However, if you scratch beneath the surface, you soon start to realise that there is a deep-rooted issue with homelessness; with one in every 200 people in England without a home.

According to statistics released in December 2019; at least 280,000 were homeless over Christmas in a country with a population of just under 67 million. In contrast with the United States of America, where figures show that 567,715 people were living homeless in 2019, that rate of homelessness is considerably higher. You are statistically more than twice as likely to be homeless in England than you are in the USA.

Why Does England Have Such a Problem with Homelessness?

There are many reasons behind the problematic rate of homelessness in England, with local authorities suffering cuts to budgets as well as many businesses facing uncertain futures due to the United Kingdom exiting the European Union. The breakdown of a relationship, such as a marriage, is also seen as one of the main causes for someone becoming homeless – with the break-up of a unit that may have only just been making ends meet with two sources of income going their separate ways.

London is where the biggest problem can be found with the capital city accounting for more than 60% of the country’s overall population, with 170,068 registered as being homeless. That means that one in every 52 is without a home living in one of the richest cities in the world. This can almost certainly be put down to the inflated cost of living in London compared to the rest of the country, with the average Londoner expected to pay around twice as much rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre than they would for the same in Manchester city centre.

It is nothing out of the ordinary for capital and/or major cities, where the cost of living is inflated compared to other areas of the country, to have high rates of homelessness. To see this, all you must do is look closer to home, where the state of District of Columbia (DC) has a rate of 94 homeless people per 10,000, considerably higher than second-placed New York’s 46.4 per 10,000 population.

What is Being Done to Tackle the Issue

With so many local authorities such as councils having their budgets cut, much of the work that is being done to tackle the issue is being carried out by charitable causes. Citizens are volunteering their time to work in shelters and donating anything that they can to help make someone that is homeless as comfortable as possible. Other charities are working on behalf of the homeless to secure temporary accommodation in hostels and B&Bs, as well as apartment spaces.

The lack of having a permanent address presents difficulties when trying to find work or claim benefits that they might be entitled to. There are also many local businesses that offer services either for free or at a discounted rate for the homeless. When you consider some of the little things that you might take for granted, such as access to a shower, a washing machine and being able to get a haircut that someone who is homeless does not have, you soon realise how even just the smallest gesture can make a big difference.