As the organisation grows, having adequate space is always a challenge. In June 2015, an opportunity came up: the space above one of the restaurants where we serve our free meals under the Cuff Road Project became available. With rent at a very reasonable rate, TWC2 took it over for use as our Day Space. After some weeks of cleaning, repainting and re-organising, it has become a focal point for many activities.
“The Day Space is another milestone in TWC2’s growth as a charity for migrant workers,” says TWC2 president Noorashikin Abdul Rahman. “It is a sanctuary for workers who are out of work and waiting for resolution for their employment disputes. They get to relax and unwind without the fear of being chased away by authorities and other stakeholders who find the presence of migrant workers idling around in public spaces as an eyesore.”
Elaborating, Debbie Fordyce, co-ordinator of the Cuff Road Project, adds: “Men placed on Special Pass face numerous difficulties: not permitted to work, unable to remit money home to family, unsure of the outcome, and forced to pass what seems like endless months of waiting for the resolution of their claim. As difficult as life as a construction worker or shipyard workers is, life on a park bench is worse as the family’s problems increase and debts grow. A place to relax, talk with friends, use computers or stretch out to sleep without attracting the attention of the police, the TWC2 Day Space offers a refuge amid the complex, lengthy and seemingly insurmountable problems that these men must endure.”
One of the first things TWC2 did was to sign up for broadband wifi so that the donated computers would be available to workers to surf, communicate with family and friends or to learn new skills. As Noorashikin points out, “The space provides a much needed facility for our domestic workers’ groups to hold their classes and meetings.”
This happens on Sundays, when the space is largely turned over to domestic workers, who show up in large numbers for their programmes.
Most weekdays however, the Day Space should offer a quiet refuge for out-of-work foreign workers, though some evenings may get busy as various service groups use the location to provide assistance. “It is also a meeting point for our volunteers engaged in projects on migrant workers,” Noorashikin adds, “and for us to conduct talks and reach out to members of the public.”
“We envision the Day Space to become an important touch point between TWC2, the migrant workers we serve and our volunteers to build closer relationships and grow together as a community.”