More youth volunteering with HDB to help improve neighbourhood and community ties

Artist’s impression of new public housing units to be built in Pasir Ris. PHOTO: HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT BOARD

SINGAPORE - Ms Insyirah Imran may be an undergraduate still studying architecture at the National University of Singapore, but she has been playing an important role in helping Pasir Ris residents have a say in improving their neighbourhood.

The 23-year-old organised a pop-up engagement session to gather the residents' perspectives and a design workshop for them to share how they envisioned their social space. Ideas that are feasible will be incorporated into the plan for Pasir Ris by the Housing Board's Remaking Our Heartland team.

Ms Insyirah is one of the 2,400 young volunteers aged 35 and below under HDB's Friends of Our Heartlands Programme (FOH). They make up about two-thirds of the total 3,600 volunteers who have signed up since the programme was launched a year ago.

Ms Insyirah was cited by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance and grassroots adviser to Tampines GRC Grassroots Organisations, as an inspiring example for those looking to contribute their talents and time.

Mr Heng was guest-of-honour at the FOH Appreciation Ceremony on Saturday (May 26) where over 400 other volunteers were also recognised for their contributions.

The ceremony at Our Tampines Hub, alongside a showcase of the volunteer projects and a sharing session by FOH volunteers, brought to a close HDB Community Week 2018.

The FOH Programme is an initiative to bring HDB's various volunteering programmes together to form a single network. It has reached out to more than 60,000 HDB residents across Singapore.

There are three main tracks in this network: The first is aimed at young volunteers or those new to volunteerism who can then conduct outreach programmes.

The second track is for more experienced volunteers who want to initiate their own community projects. School students have been able to realise their volunteer project ideas through this track. For example, a group of 19 students from Catholic Junior College engaged over 100 residents in Tampines Town through a canvas painting activity featuring inspiring messages or moments of kindness. The work of art was turned into a wall mural in Tampines. The volunteers were just one group of students among many recognised at the ceremony.

The third track targets those who want to facilitate conversation among residents in the community on town improvement features. Ms Insyirah is among the volunteers on this track.

"They sacrifice their time and resources, sparing no effort to organise activities and bring residents together, to make the community a better place to live in," said Mr Heng.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.