Ian Tong

Former drug addict Leau Ian Tong, 32, used to see The Helping Hand as a roadblock standing between him and his family.

Having completed eight months of treatment at the drug rehabilitation centre (DRC) facility in Changi Prison, he yearned to leave the halfway house sooner and go home to be with his ageing parents.

But as the days of his mandated 10-month community supervision passed, Mr Leau came to realise that the structured programme benefited his recovery.

After his stint as a resident at the halfway house in Upper Serangoon Road, Mr Leau joined The Helping Hand as an intern so that he could support others like him. In the future, he plans to take on a management role to oversee operations at the halfway house.


Mr Leau, who has done two stints in the DRC, said that as a resident at The Helping Hand, he was constantly worried about his parents.

During that time, he was allowed to go home only on Sundays and for just a few hours.

“As (my parents) are old, I was very worried for them, particularly during the circuit breaker,” he said.

Mr Leau recalled having to teach his parents how to stay safe and order items online and ached at the thought of not being by their side in their moments of need.

“Eventually, I realised the halfway house was a good place for me to recover as there were programmes to help residents and a good support network to rely on,” he said.

“Even after I returned home, I felt that I could contribute to the halfway house and felt very comfortable there.”

Mr Leau’s 66-year-old mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Loo, said the family was glad to have him back for Christmas and proud of him for overcoming his challenges.

Founded in 1987, The Helping Hand is a Christian halfway house that offers family counselling, life-skills lessons and aftercare assistance to its residents, to help them stay crime- and drug-free for the long run.

Mr Leau now helps to develop business continuity plans and projects for residents at the halfway house and manages its operations across departments.

He said his faith and the halfway house’s support network have strengthened his resolve to stay away from drugs.

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