Inspiring hope through sport

Singapore, 11 Mar 2016

Sport can be a great leveller and Macquarie staff working with residents of HopeHouse, a residential facility in Singapore which supports young men aged over 16, know this to be true.

HopeHouse provides a stable environment for up to 14 young men at a time, helping them get back on track, to start or continue their studies and to work through their personal and family issues over a 12-month period.

Belinda Wright, a Macquarie staff member in Singapore, has supported HopeHouse since 2013, after being introduced to the charity by a friend.

“My friend was helping to set up a gym with HopeHouse – with the goal of ensuring the young men had an outlet separate to school that wasn’t focused on the issues they were dealing with,” says Wright.

“This kind of cause can tend to fall beyond the usual interest in charities but support through positive engagement and mentoring, generally using sport as the focus, tends to work well,” says Wright.

As a result of Wright’s volunteering with HopeHouse, other staff in Macquarie’s Singapore office have got involved over the past few years, including David Sanderson.

“Working and living in Singapore, and travelling throughout Asia, opened my eyes to the many unmet needs within the region,” Sanderson says.

"The support HopeHouse is providing to these young men is not something most people would expect is needed in Singapore.”

“HopeHouse works to create and maintain a home for the young men who live there. It’s not just accommodation – it’s a supportive and nurturing space and the boys help each other like brothers.”

In addition to raising funds for HopeHouse, a core group of six Macquarie staff in Singapore have developed an informal mentoring program between staff and the residents, with an ongoing focus on positive engagement through sporting and social activities.

The volunteers have also helped to facilitate part-time employment opportunities for the residents.

“With Macquarie coming into the picture, the young men could establish relationships with a bunch of active people and participate in sporting events with them. This created an informal mentoring arrangement and gave them an outlet for releasing their energy, and for doing something that required commitment and participation,” explains Wright.

A trivia night held by Macquarie staff in 2014 raised enough funds, with Macquarie Group Foundation matching, to purchase a van for HopeHouse – a practical and invaluable donation for the non-profit.

Macquarie running teams have also donated prize pools of $S10,000 to HopeHouse, as a result of coming first in the annual Bloomberg Square Mile Relay in Singapore for the past three years.

HopeHouse has also recently established a separate residential facility, ‘Our Loft’, for residents who have come to the end of their placement in the home.

Cecilia Chua, Chair of HopeHouse, explains the concept of the new facility:

“Over the past few years we’ve recognised that upon finishing their stay with HopeHouse some of our residents have either no home to go to, or badly strained family relationships that make it almost impossible to go home. Whilst our philosophy has always been to integrate them back with their families, at times this is a challenge.”

“Recent donations from Macquarie will be used to help us renovate and equip our new facility, and support the running of it for a year. Our Loft will be located near HopeHouse and the residents will learn to live independently with guidance by coaches. The goal is to integrate them into society and towards independence.”

Image caption: As part of an informal mentoring program, Macquarie staff and HopeHouse residents have participated in sporting activities together since 2013, including basketball, go karting and fun runs.