Yellow Ribbon Project



The Yellow Ribbon Project is a national initiative aimed at encouraging the community, through various programmes and activities, to accept ex-offenders released from prisons and drug rehabilitation centres as well as support their reintegration into society. It was launched in 2004 by the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network, which is made up of organisations responsible for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders.1 

History
The CARE Network, which runs the Yellow Ribbon Project, comprises a group of community and government organisations responsible for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. They include the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore Prison Service, Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises, Industrial & Services Co-Operative Society, Singapore After-Care Association, Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association and National Council of Social Service. These agencies formed the CARE Network in 2000, upon recognising that they had a common goal and their efforts to aid the rehabilitation of ex-offenders would be more effective if their resources and expertise were pooled.2

Realising that successful rehabilitation of ex-offenders depends on the attitudes of their family members, friends, employers, as well as community at large, the CARE Network created the Yellow Ribbon Project in 2004. The CARE Network believes that with the acceptance and support of the people around them, ex-offenders will be less likely to return to their old ways.3 In the same year, the Yellow Ribbon Fund was set up to provide the funds needed to develop, implement and support programmes for ex-offenders and their families.

The name of the initiative was inspired by the 1970s song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”. The song is about a man who had just been released from prison and was hoping to reunite with his wife. Before his release, he wrote his wife a letter saying that if she were willing to take him back, she could let him know by tying a yellow ribbon around the only oak tree in the city square. When he arrived at the area, he saw not one but hundreds of yellow ribbons on the tree. The yellow ribbon was thus chosen as the project’s symbol of forgiveness and acceptance.

Objectives
The Yellow Ribbon Project has three objectives. Firstly, it aims to create awareness of the need to give ex-offenders a chance to start afresh; secondly, to generate acceptance of ex-offenders and their families into the community; and thirdly, to inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders.6

Activities
During the annual Wear-A-Yellow-Ribbon activity, members of the public are encouraged to wear a specially-made yellow ribbon in support of ex-offenders.

Other activities that have been organised as part of the Yellow Ribbon Project include concerts where inmates and ex-offenders perform with local and foreign artistes before a public audience; community art exhibitions displaying original works by inmates and ex-offenders; public education exhibitions and roadshows; as well as community walks that bring together ex-offenders, their families and individuals from schools, religious and community organisations, companies and government agencies. During the Yellow Ribbon Fair, inmates and ex-offenders are given the opportunity to interact with the public and demonstrate their skills and talents, while members of the public can learn more about the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders. In addition, the annual Yellow Ribbon Conference serves as a platform for experts and community partners to discuss issues relating to the reintegration of ex-offenders.8

Money raised during these events goes into the Yellow Ribbon Fund. A registered charity under the Charities Act, the Yellow Ribbon Fund also raises money through public donations and the sale of music compilations written and performed by ex-offenders.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund helps to finance rehabilitation and aftercare programmes for ex-offenders; support services for inmates’ family members before and after their discharge from custody; and public awareness programmes to support the objectives of the Yellow Ribbon Project.10 

Timeline
May 2000: CARE Network is formed.11
Jun 2004: Yellow Ribbon Fund is set up.12
2 Oct 2004: Yellow Ribbon Project and Yellow Ribbon Fund are officially launched by President S. R. Nathan at the Yellow Ribbon Charity Concert.13
9 Oct 2004: Premiere of the film Coming Home is launched at a free screening at an open field opposite Khatib Mass Rapid Transit Station to a crowd of 6,500. Jointly produced by Gateway Entertainment, the CARE Network and Media Development Authority, the movie follows the journeys of three ex-offenders trying to reintegrate into the community after their time in prison.14
20 Aug 2007: Yellow Ribbon Project receives an honourable mention at the United Nations (UN) Grand Award, which recognises campaigns that address priority issues before the UN does.15
2 Sep 2007: Giving Back, a collection of original short stories and poems written by inmates and ex-offenders, is launched. Published by the CARE Network and National Library Board, the book features works written in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.16



Author

Valerie Chew



References
1. Sua, T. (2005, November 5). Helping ex-offenders get a 2nd chance. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: Who we are. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/who-we-are/
2. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: Who we are. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/who-we-are/; Singapore Prison Service. (2013). The courage to believe: Unlocking life’s second chances. Singapore: Author, p. 26. (Call no.: RSING 364.8095957 COU)
3. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: What we do. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/what-we-do/
4. Sua, T. (2005, November 5). Helping ex-offenders get a 2nd chance. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: Our inspiration. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/our-inspiration/
6. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: Our objectives. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/our-objectives/
7. Singapore Prison Service. (2013). The courage to believe: Unlocking life’s second chances. Singapore: Author, p. 36. (Call no.: RSING 364.8095957 COU)
8. Singapore Prison Service. (2013). The courage to believe: Unlocking life’s second chances. Singapore: Author, pp. 36–49. (Call no.: RSING 364.8095957 COU)
9. Sua, T. (2005, November 5). Helping ex-offenders get a 2nd chance. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). Yellow Ribbon Fund. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/yellow-ribbon-fund/; Sua, T. (2005, November 5). Helping ex-offenders get a 2nd chance. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). About us: Who we are. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/about-us/who-we-are/
12. Yellow Ribbon Project. (2015). Yellow Ribbon Fund. Retrieved 2016, December 28 from Yellow Ribbon Project website: http://www.yellowribbon.org.sg/yellow-ribbon-fund/
13. Tie a yellow ribbon… (2004, October 4). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Singapore Prison Service. (2013). The courage to believe: Unlocking life’s second chances. Singapore: Author, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 364.8095957 COU); Movie premiere: Coming Home. (2004, September 13). Today, p. 9; Page 37 Advertisements column 1. (2004, October 8). Today, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Gateway Entertainment for CARE Network in association with the Media Development Authority. (Producers). (2004). Coming home. [Motion picture]. Singapore: Gateway Entertainment. (Call no.: RSING 791.4372 COM)
15. Fang, N. (2007, August 28). S’pore firm gets UN award for prison-rehab campaign. The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Singapore Prison Service. (2013). The courage to believe: Unlocking life’s second chances. Singapore: Author, pp. 36–49. (Call no.: RSING 364.8095957 COU); Giving back: Winning stories and poems from behind bars. (c2007). Singapore: CARE Network and National Library Board. (Call no.: RSING 808.899206927 GIV)



Further resources
Duffy, A. (2006, October 10). Life beyond the bars. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Hoe, P. S. (2014, December 21). Strumming a song of new hope. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Lim, Y. H. (2014, October 29). Bursary named after veteran lawyer. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

More than 9,000 people take part in Yellow Ribbon Run. (2011, September 19). The New Paper, pp. 8–9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Soh, T. (2005, September 24). Govt ministries allowed to recruit ex-offendersThe Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2008 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Events>>National Campaigns
National campaigns
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
People and communities>>Social problems
Ex-convicts--Singapore