Benefits in long-term volunteering

It is heartening to know that the time put in by Singaporeans in volunteering has gone up dramatically - from 66 million hours in 2014 to 121 million hours last year (Kampung spirit revival as more volunteer informally; March 16).

It was also noted that more people are giving their time, although in shorter periods and through more informal channels, such as starting ground-up efforts or volunteering directly.

While informal volunteerism provides a more flexible option, with less chance of clashing with work or home responsibilities, long-term volunteering with a charity has its benefits as well.

When volunteers stay with a charity for an extended period of time, they can become a real part of the charity's ecosystem.

They develop a deeper understanding of the work which the charity does and, over time, can volunteer in more intricate and impactful ways.

They may also meet the people who will become their friends for life, as well as people important for their careers.

The longer volunteers stay at one place, the greater the likelihood that they become better at their volunteering roles.

A greater proficiency gives a heightened sense of satisfaction as they discover how to better contribute to the beneficiaries of the charity through their actions.

This is beneficial for both volunteers and beneficiaries, and creates a greater overall impact on both groups.

Such long-term volunteering opportunities are available at the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), in its 24-hour hotline.

Volunteers are given extensive training to learn to respond to callers in distress over the hotline.

Continual training is also provided so volunteers can progress to increase the scope of their volunteering role over time and with greater experience.

Christine Wong (Ms )

Executive Director

Samaritans of Singapore

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline Benefits in long-term volunteering. Subscribe