Social service providers boost Net presence

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 17, 2014

Social service providers here are ramping up their Internet presence since many people who need their help - especially the young - are looking for it online.

Their initiatives include becoming more active on social media and even putting up an offer on daily deal website Groupon Singapore to raise awareness.

The YMCA of Singapore uses Facebook as the main online platform to reach out to people, said its assistant manager of corporate affairs Samuel Ng. It also has a YouTube channel and a blog.

Besides posting photographs and videos regularly, it runs campaigns on Facebook to appeal for donations or rally volunteers.

Mr Ng said: "Facebook enables us to share our latest (information) all in one place. (Users) can also conveniently help to spread our messages by sharing them with their friends."

Touch Community Services also has a Facebook page which actively promotes its services, as it is important to stay connected and engaged with people online, said its manager of corporate communications Terry Lim.

The Asian Women's Welfare Association is looking at revamping its website to "better engage and interact" with the public.

Its family service centre director Edwin Yim said social media platforms are "more cost-effective than other communication vehicles".

Blessed Grace Social Services is also looking into exploring social media platforms to reach out to more people next year.

Its executive director Deborah Queck said: "This may not be our priority now, as people who seek help here, for themselves or for their children, are middle-aged. They are not as tech-savvy. But we recognise it as a way to get to more people who need help."

Meanwhile, a new day-care centre for seniors, Goldencare, took to Groupon to offer discounts for its care services. The discounts are up to 50 per cent and will be available until March next year.

Its chief executive Joya Zhao said: "Our target audience is the children or relatives of elderly people who spend much time online, so we are engaging them online as they are an important part of the decision process for the seniors joining the centre."

Social service veteran Ang Bee Lian backs the push to "move more information and engagement online". She said: "Voluntary welfare organisations are beginning to engage through Facebook and this is important as the number of regular users has gone up... (it also) does not require a lot of effort as many already use Facebook as part of their daily life."

In a related move, three Singaporeans have decided to set up a website to bring together people who need care services and those who can provide help.

Called Click2Care, it will be launched by next month. Anyone can sign up for free and ask for help in the various categories, such as eldercare, infant care and childcare. Those who can provide help can send users a message via the website.

Freelance real estate agent Aaron Liong, 32, who is behind Click2Care with two of his siblings, said: "It's quite hard to find personalised care services here, so we thought, why not create a consolidated platform where people can ask for help, or offer their help? It's like bringing back the kampung spirit."

limyihan@sph.com.sg