Govt sets aside $250 million for matching grants to national fund-raising movement

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking time off to have a group photo with staff of Thye Hua Kwan Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children Centre staff and invited guests at the amphitheatre next to Block 313 in Ang Mo Kio. The Gover
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong taking time off to have a group photo with staff of Thye Hua Kwan Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children Centre staff and invited guests at the amphitheatre next to Block 313 in Ang Mo Kio. The Government has set aside $250 million to match donations to the social services sector dollar-for-dollar this year, said Mr Lee on Friday, Jan 17, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The Government has set aside $250 million to match donations to the social services sector dollar-for-dollar this year, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday.

The funds will go to the Care and Share movement, a national drive launched last October to encourage donations and volunteerism in the run-up to the Republic's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2015.

The total target figure will be $500 million - half from the public, half from the Government.

The money will be used for building the capabilities of some 250 voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), such as funding new programmes and facilities, and training staff.

This is to meet the rising needs in the social services sector, said PM Lee at the launch of a centre for children with special needs in Ang Mo Kio, where he is an MP.

"VWOs can have confidence that they have the resources and backing to deal not only with immediate issues, but their long-term challenges and capability needs too," he said.

"The social service sector can continue to play its valuable role in our next phase of nation-building."

He expressed hope that the community would do more to support the less fortunate, "not because the law or the Government says so, but because it reflects the values of our society and our mutual care and empathy for our fellow Singaporeans."

He was speaking at the opening of Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities' newest Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) centre.

Run by Thye Hua Kuan, a VWO, the facility caters to children with special needs and their families by providing special education and therapy support services.

The Community Chest, the main body behind the Care and Share movement, has also pioneered new ways to donate easily to the campaign. This includes tapping their ez-link cards on interactive posters at MRT stations.

Its chairman Phillip Tan said they were was "very encouraged" by the Government's $250 million commitment.

"I hope this will spur corporate organisations, foundations and individuals to donate generously and encourage more people to come forward as volunteers," he said.

rchang@sph.com.sg

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