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iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE

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The successful though simple idea driving Share a Pot

The supported by iF project Share a Pot empowers older people in Singapore through a network of almost 200 volunteers.

For the initiators of the community-based project Share a Pot from the Republic of Singapore, the iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE and prize money of Euro 10,000 in 2017 was only the beginning of a success story. Their innovative though so simple concept got further rewarded at the Asian Elderly Care Awards in 2019. Project executive Tan Shi Hui summarizes: "Since the prize, Share a Pot has garnered more attention in health and social sectors, lending momentum to our efforts at forging partnerships and proliferating the program."

The mission of Share a Pot is to combine basic physical training sessions for older adults and communal eating by, as the project name gives away, sharing a bowl of soup. A city-wide network of volunteers – including retired civil servants and nurses and still employed fitness instructors and food vendors – is behind of all that.

What once started with six staff volunteers in the pilot phase in 2014, has evolved to almost 200 staff and community volunteers. Now the team hopes to put the iF prize money towards the development of an electronic system with which the volunteers can better manage the daily operations and track participants health data more easily. Shi Hui says: "As the development cost is high, we continue to search for a cost-effective solution to bring this to fruition."

The mission of "Share a Pot" is to fight social isolation and frailty by empowering older people through communal eating and physical exercising.

The mission of "Share a Pot" is to fight social isolation and frailty by empowering older people through communal eating and physical exercising.

Tan Shi Hui (2nd row, 2nd from the left) belongs to the staff volunteers who keep Share a Pot as community-based program working.

Tan Shi Hui (2nd row, 2nd from the left) belongs to the staff volunteers who keep Share a Pot as community-based program working.

Uniting around a pot of hot soup is the signature attraction of the program and, according to project executive Shi Hui, one of the factors that keeps seniors and volunteers coming back.

Uniting around a pot of hot soup is the signature attraction of the program and, according to project executive Shi Hui, one of the factors that keeps seniors and volunteers coming back.

Before the lockdown, the community events were spread at 32 locations around Singapore City. The volunteers have the freedom to adapt the program to the interests and needs of their own community.

Before the lockdown, the community events were spread at 32 locations around Singapore City. The volunteers have the freedom to adapt the program to the interests and needs of their own community.

Fitness instructors are among the now nearly 200 volunteers who educate the seniors about keeping fit and healthy.

Fitness instructors are among the now nearly 200 volunteers who educate the seniors about keeping fit and healthy.

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By now, the volunteers succeeded in spreading the community events at 32 locations once a week in Singapore City, especially at community areas near government housing estates, and further dedicated themselves to guide new locations in the set-up process. According to Shi Hui, more than 1.700 participants with an average age of 70 had registered to Share a Pot, until the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily put the program on hold.

The great success of Share a Pot might be attributable to the fact that the project tackles stigmatized topics such as physical frailty and social isolation. In fact, Singapore is a multi-cultural and rapidly ageing society where projects such as Share a Pot are part of an already launched national-wide action plan that aims to empower older people. "What we have observed is that when seniors get the space to offer their strengths, they discover their sense of identity and purpose," Shi Hui says and continues, "They become valued community members, overcoming the social stigma around ageing and developing a greater sense of wellbeing."

Even though the Share a Pot team has decided to suspend the program due to the government’s pandemic measures, creative solutions within the community have emerged such as online fitness groups, small scale cooking to share food with neighbors, and chatting through messenger apps. "We look forward to resuming the usual activities and are encouraged by these powerful stories. It has shown us that building relationships during non-crisis periods has a lasting effect", Shi Hui reports proudly.

The iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE aims to publish and support projects that contribute to our society. In 2017, Share a Pot belonged to six projects in total that were financially supported by iF.

 
Related links:
Website of Share a Pot with recipes and exercises

(published in December 2020)