Common network to widen opportunities for HDB's volunteers

Minister Lawrence Wong said that the new programmes will allow volunteers to meet more often strengthening community bonds.
Minister Lawrence Wong said that the new programmes will allow volunteers to meet more often strengthening community bonds. PHOTO: CALVIN WONG

A new common network - Friends of Our Heartlands - has been set up for volunteers of the Housing Board's (HDB) community programmes in order to widen opportunities for them.

All volunteers will now fall under the new network, which consolidates the agency's existing volunteer and community-building programmes.

Announcing the change at the launch of the HDB Community Week 2017 yesterday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said this will allow volunteers to meet more regularly and better share their ideas with one another.

It aims to make it easier for volunteers to try different programmes, as their experience, skills and interests may evolve over time. Mr Wong said: "We will also be able to provide more opportunities for them to volunteer and contribute to the community."

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To date, about 130,000 members of the public and school students have been volunteers in various HDB programmes, such as the Heartland Ambassador Programme, Project Sphere and the Good Neighbours Project.

Such outreach volunteer programmes will now fall under three different tracks.

The first is aimed at young or new volunteers who are dipping their toes into volunteering through outreach programmes, such as sharing tips on neighbourly behaviour and eco-living.

INTERACTING WITH RESIDENTS

This initiative gives us a platform to interact with residents, and we get to pick up skills like communication as well.

VOLUNTEER NUR FARAH HUDA MUHAMAD FAUZI, on HDB's community-bonding programmes.

The second track is for experienced volunteers who want to initiate community projects to bring residents together.

The third track is a new initiative aimed at building "community facilitators" who will coordinate with residents on ideas and projects on town improvement features.

Projects under HDB's Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund, a $500,000 fund launched last May, will fall under the last track.

About $70,000 across 18 projects has been disbursed so far, funding ground-up community-bonding initiatives such as creating a play-and-gardening yard out of an under-utilised grass patch.

Volunteer Nur Farah Huda Muhamad Fauzi, 21, a second-year architecture student from National University of Singapore, said: "This initiative gives us a platform to interact with residents, and we get to pick up skills like communication as well."

Those who want to volunteer can sign up online via the HDB InfoWEB website. They will receive training in areas such as communication, facilitation and project management to equip them with skills to perform their roles effectively.

Mr Wong yesterday also gave out Good Neighbour Awards to 14 individuals and two schools for their service to the community.

The HDB Community Week 2017 will run until June 2 at Punggol Town Square, near Punggol MRT station and Waterway Point. For details on the programme, visit hdb.gov.sg/commu nityweek.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 28, 2017, with the headline 'Common network to widen opportunities for HDB's volunteers'. Print Edition | Subscribe