Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

SG Cares to cultivate volunteerism here

MS SITI NURANI, 35, founder of Project Goodwill Aid. The group has visited more than 1,000 families in rental flats since 2013, distributing groceries, for instance.
MS SITI NURANI, 35, founder of Project Goodwill Aid. The group has visited more than 1,000 families in rental flats since 2013, distributing groceries, for instance.

To be launched later this year, nationwide movement is part of multiple efforts to encourage ground-up projects

Step up to help a neighbour, or a cause. That is the call of SG Cares, a nationwide volunteerism movement to be officially launched in the second half of this year.

It aims to "harness the goodwill of Singaporeans, inspire them to step forward, and support them to help others in need", said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu yesterday. The movement is part of her ministry's efforts to nurture a community of caring people in the coming year.

Its focus includes increasing volunteerism opportunities, coordinating partnerships, and building capabilities of volunteers and organisations through training.

It will be led by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and the National Council of Social Service, but is "not a government scheme", said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin on Wednesday.

"It is about giving and volunteering... and a lot of this is already taking place in the community. (SG Cares) provides an overall umbrella to encourage and support these efforts, to help and facilitate even more outreach," he added.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We still don't have enough volunteers. It'll be good if SG Cares can help us attract volunteers, and match people with time and interest to meet the social needs.

MS SITI NURANI, 35, founder of Project Goodwill Aid. The group has visited more than 1,000 families in rental flats since 2013, distributing groceries, for instance.

Ms Fu cited the work of Ms Siti Nurani Salim, founder of Project Goodwill Aid, during her speech. The group has visited more than 1,000 families in rental flats since 2013, distributing groceries and refurbishing their homes, for instance.

Said Ms Fu: "This is the spirit we hope to cultivate through SG Cares - communities self-organising to care for their members and inspiring others to do good.

"It is the members of each community who truly understand the needs of their neighbours and friends, who are best placed to help make Singapore a truly caring society."

Last year, 350 volunteers took part in Project Goodwill Aid's activities. Said Ms Siti Nurani, 35: "We still don't have enough volunteers. It'll be good if SG Cares can help us attract volunteers, and match people with time and interest to meet the social needs."

Ms Fu also gave updates on other initiatives to promote volunteerism during the debate on her ministry's budget. The inaugural Youth Corps Service Week will be held from tomorrow till next Saturday, to encourage the young to contribute to social and community causes.

It will comprise volunteering activities held islandwide.

Meanwhile, nearly 40 ground-up projects that build national identity or help the community have been supported by Our Singapore Fund, launched last year.

The projects have benefited more than 37,000 people.

Ms Fu also encouraged more companies to give back to society.

She said there are more than 470 members in NVPC's Company of Good programme, started last year to promote corporate giving.

The programme also has two new schemes, which will be introduced later this year.

One is the Champion of Good scheme, which recognises companies with best practices in corporate giving. The other is the Company of Good Fellowship, which aims to grow a community of corporate leaders and develop their capabilities in corporate giving through training and mentoring.

Said Ms Fu: "We need to look out for one another. We are as strong as the most vulnerable among us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'SG Cares to cultivate volunteerism here'. Print Edition | Subscribe