Bite-sized ways for people to help others

Picking up groceries for an elderly neighbour once in a while, to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, is also a way of volunteering.

Her ministry is hoping to grow a larger pool of volunteers by creating more of such "bite-sized" opportunities for people to help others, under a national movement to foster a more caring society called SG Cares.

Ms Fu said the idea is to provide more volunteering opportunities that will fit people's schedules and needs, be they students, retirees or working parents.

"We also want the volunteerism to result in meaningful experiences for the volunteers so that their skill sets and resources are put to the best use," she said. Social service groups, for example, can better engage volunteers to let them know the difference that they make.

Ms Fu said another way is to try new arrangements to get companies and their staff involved. For example, POSB started a tie-up with NTUC Health last year where the bank's staff can volunteer at the NTUC Health nursing home nearest to their office. So far, about 100 POSB employees have helped out at the nursing homes.

The SG Cares movement was mentioned during the Budget debate when ministers of the three ministries behind it spoke about their plans to create a more caring society. On Wednesday, Ms Fu, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee told Parliament about their ministries' SG Cares efforts.

The Health Ministry is building a network of volunteers to support seniors, while the Ministry of Social and Family Development is beefing up the delivery of social services.


Another group on the radar of Ms Fu's ministry is youth. It hopes to reach out to more youth who are keen to work with other young people, or even the Government, to improve society. As Ms Fu put it, the ministry is hoping to get youth to "disconnect to reconnect".

Youth are on social media, often interacting only with those who are like-minded, she said.

"But we need to get them to disconnect from their social media realm and reconnect in person or even in social media with people with different interests and of different backgrounds."

Hence, from next month, the ministry is starting Youth Conversations, a series of dialogues and activities for the young to discuss issues, negotiate the differences that arise and find solutions to problems together.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'Bite-sized ways for people to help others'. Print Edition | Subscribe