top of page
  • Writer's picturechriswtw32

How do health inequalities impact access to community spaces?

Research: Changes in community spaces can improve health and well-being for persons with special needs

*This is an AI-generated image.

What the research was about

A recent research report by The Health Creation Alliance (THCA) and commissioned by UK's NHS Property Services shared their findings on what different communities thought of and would like about community spaces. They engaged various communities including carers, persons with learning/intellectual disabilities (ID), persons with mental ill-health amongst others. The aims of the project were to explore the relationship between spaces and health and identify the common and unique factors between these communities.

For persons with ID, what came up as important included things such as communal spaces with quieter and confidential areas, a community cafe supporting inclusion, and spaces that are designed to be inclusive and accessible etc. Carers talked about how they would like a calming, sensory environment with breakout spaces, multi-purpose, shared spaces, having some ownership of the space amongst others. Persons with mental ill-health shared similar wishes, adding that a space with familiar faces and good relationships was important to them.

Relevance for Singapore

There have been similar efforts so far in Singapore to modify, create inclusive spaces. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) shared earlier this year how architects, designers, planners and others are increasingly engaging communities to co-create inclusive spaces. The most recent revision of Code on Accessibility in the Built Environment released in 2019 by the Ministry of National Development (MND) included more guidelines on improving accessibility and inclusivity for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The Enabling Village, officially opened in December 2015, was set up with the purpose of providing a communal and inclusive space for persons with disabilities. Being an integrated community space, it houses social business, F&B outlets, retail shops, and is open to the public, meaning that it is a space where persons with and without disabilities can freely and openly interact. Similarly, an increasing number of inclusive playgrounds have sprouted up in Singapore in the recent years, improving inclusion and accessibility for young persons with disabilities. In the recent Enabling Masterplan 2030, recommendations were made to "accelerate accessibility upgrading and raise accessibility standards".

There is no doubt then that Singapore is committed to improving accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities. Yet beyond the physical infrastructure, is there more that we could do to build the social infrastructure for fuller, truer inclusion? Besides the Enabling Village, do we have sufficient communal spaces for persons with disabilities to freely come together to socialize, interact, eat, play together without the stigma, judgmental looks that still come with many existing public spaces? Are there enough opportunities, access, avenues to meet their socio-recreational needs? Does the person with autism have the space, freedom, or even a partner to play with if they want to play football or basketball? Are there art and craft classes for the person with ID, suitably designed and priced, and does the person know where and how to access? Are they even supported or encouraged to do so? Is there enough awareness and understanding in our society for persons with disabilities to have friends - not just volunteer befrienders, but real friends - and have the place to hang out with their friends?

Nevertheless, Singapore has come a long way since its first Enabling Masterplan (2007 - 2011). Despite the many challenges and constraints, there have been improvements for persons with disabilities in Singapore. As we continue on this journey and strive to make Singapore a truly inclusive society, let's continue to see what we can do to not only change the physical infrastructure, but the social and psychological infrastructure as well.

For more information, please access the report via this link:


0 views0 comments


bottom of page