Renovations to the Catholic Welfare Centre are expected to last a year.

Offices to relocate temporarily. Darren Boon finds out more

Catholic Welfare Centre at 55 Waterloo Street will undergo renovation.

Refurbishment works to the nine-storey building, located next to Church of Sts Peter and Paul, are expected to begin in mid-April and last a year.

Existing tenants such as Caritas Singapore, Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives Singapore (CHARIS), Catholic Welfare Services (CWS), CANA – The Catholic Centre, and the Apostolic Nunciature will temporarily relocate to other premises during the renovation.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia has accepted an offer by the Singapore Land Authority to extend the building lease by 30 years to 2042. Its 99-year lease was about to end.

The building’s infrastructure such as mechanical and electrical installations, and plumbing, sanitary and fire sprinkler systems will be upgraded to meet new building regulations and practices. The new building will have barrier-free access and meet security and environmental requirements, said the Archdiocesan Land and Properties Singapore (ALPS), which is managing the renovation on behalf of Archbishop Chia.

He had established ALPS in Dec 2009 to monitor the inventory and properties belonging to the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore and deal with any other matters relating to land and property. The ALPS council comprises volunteers across various professions.

According to ALPS, the tenancy mix will change after the renovation to allow the building “to be a town hub of Catholic charities and the Catholic community”.

Caritas Singapore, CHARIS and CWS will expand their space and have improved facilities.

Caritas Singapore will provide services to other Catholic charities and community organisations at its Affiliates Service Centre while CHARIS will have a Humanitarian Resource Centre.

CWS will set up a Social Service Hub to reach out to the poor and needy, said ALPS in a statement to CatholicNews.

The Singapore Pastoral Institute (SPI) will also move into the renovated building and will manage a pastoral library on the fourth floor.

Church groups will be able to use the meeting rooms and facilities available on the second and third floors. CANA will manage these facilities.

The Apostolic Nunciature will be relocated to the top floor.

The Waterloo Hostel, a commercial hostel that occupies three floors of the current building will no longer operate at the renovated premises.

To add vibrancy to the building, the archdiocese is also calling for tenders to operate a Catholic café/restaurant on the ground floor (see box on right).

Temporary premises

Caritas Singapore’s executive director Bernadette Lau told CatholicNews that her organisation started its search for alternative premises last September.

While Ms Lau acknowledged that the move might pose some inconvenience, Caritas Singapore will continue to run its services from their new premises which is already operational.

Caritas Singapore and CHARIS moved to 1557 Keppel Road, #02-18/19 Cantonment Central on March 5.

Ms Janet Lim, CANA’s secretary, said her centre is in the process of working out what can and cannot be done at its temporary premises in St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St. She said that CANA will still be available for use by the community.

Meanwhile, CANA sees excitement, new challenges and new opportunities ahead. Its “volunteers are all geared up to transform whatever space we are given to a place of welcome and Christian hospitality”, Ms Lim said.

CANA will move to St Joseph’s Church on May 1.

Mr James Chew, CWS executive director, said, “At first it may be a bit difficult for our clients to come to our temporary premises. However, we have been preparing them for our move since last month.”

CWS will move to St Theresa’s Home at 49 Upper Thomson Road on April 9.

Meanwhile, the organisation looks forward to returning to the building which will house its headquarters and CWS Hub on the sixth floor, which is “specially designed to better serve our clients”, Mr Chew said.

Mr Arthur Goh, SPI director, said: “We are grateful to have been allocated space in this new facility, and foresee that relocating to Waterloo Street will make our courses and library more accessible.”

SPI is currently located at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre (CAEC) on Highland Road.

Mr Goh said he hopes the “design and location of the new building will invite more people, particularly the younger working/student set, to forge connections with SPI as well as our neighbouring diocesan organisations like CANA and Caritas”.

Although SPI will relocate, Mr Goh said he does not rule out the possibility of continuing to offer popular courses at the CAEC.

Meanwhile, the Apostolic Nunciature is expected to move to the sixth floor of Sacred Heart Church’s Doulous Building, 113 Tank Road, on April 1.

All mailing addresses will not change and all mails should still be sent to the various offices’ 55 Waterloo Street address.

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