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'Locked up' - and freed only if friend pledges to do volunteer work

An unusual campaign for social good attracted more than 600 pledges, totalling 2,668 hours of volunteering time, in just two hours following its launch yesterday.

Staff and students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic were "locked" in a giant cage outside a canteen, and had to appeal to colleagues and friends passing by to "bail them out" by pledging to do volunteer work.

The event, called Bailout: Free Yourself, Touch More Lives, is part of the polytechnic's second annual Give Back Day, which aims to raise funds and awareness to encourage more to participate in community service movements.

"When we are asked to volunteer our time or do community service, many of us will say that we would love to but we have no time, or that we have too many other commitments," said Mrs Choo Cheh Hoon, senior director of projects at the polytechnic and adviser to the community service committee.

"We need to free ourselves from these self-imposed constraints and ask ourselves if it's really so hard to find the time to give back."

The funds raised will go to Touch Community Services, but volunteers can pledge their time to any cause of their choice.

The Bailout event is on until Friday, and pledges will continue to be accepted until June 15.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline ''Locked up' for good'. Print Edition | Subscribe