Budget 2020: Government to promote volunteerism, says Indranee Rajah

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah with RSVP Singapore volunteers during a visit to the organisation on Jan 28, 2020. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - There will be initiatives in the upcoming Budget to promote volunteerism and help seniors with their retirement needs, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah.

She spoke to reporters about the Budget on Tuesday (Jan 28) after visiting RSVP Singapore, an organisation for senior volunteers founded in 1998.

"Our aim for older Singaporeans is really to lead fulfilling lives at every stage of life," she said.

"We will certainly have something in the Budget to promote volunteerism across the board, but will also be looking to see what we can do for seniors. We also want to make sure that retirees have assurance in retirement."

She added that the Government will look at how to make it easier for people to volunteer.

"The other thing is to help connect those who want to volunteer with the kind of causes or purposes that they would like to do," said Ms Indranee.

Volunteering has changed Mr Gurdip Singh's outlook on retirement.

The 67-year-old sold his luggage shop in 2013 after 41 years, travelled around the world with his wife for two years and realised that he had no purpose in his retirement.

He then looked up online for volunteering opportunities and found RSVP Singapore. He began volunteering as a senior ambassador at Changi Airport in 2015, where he acts as a walking information counter of sorts, among other things.

He now volunteers for three days a week, but not on the weekends or when he takes care of his three grandchildren.

He said: "When I first started, it was to kill my time and to make better use of my time.

"Now it's become a knowledge learning journey for me. I don't just volunteer to pass my time. I actually volunteer to learn something new."

Mr Singh is among more than 2,500 volunteers with RSVP Singapore who participate in its befriending, guiding, training or episodic volunteering programmes that benefit more than 200,000 people yearly.

In 2019, the organisation partnered the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth (MCCY) to grow senior volunteerism in Singapore, as part of the SG Cares movement, with a target to reach out to 30,000 seniors between September 2019 and September 2020.

The organisation has engaged more than 10,000 senior citizens so far, said RSVP Singapore chairman Koh Juay Meng.

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Mr Koh said: "As a social service organisation, we would like to make sure that we are also looked into (in the upcoming Budget) and we are also taken care of at the end of the day."

He hopes the Budget will include support in helping the organisation create new programmes for the needs of the seniors.

During the debate on the MCCY budget in 2019, its minister Ms Grace Fu told Parliament that seven neighbourhood-centric volunteer centres would be appointed to actively recruit, manage and develop a pool of volunteers, before deploying them to relevant volunteer programmes.

Last month, Ms Indranee said Budget 2020 would focus on partnering and supporting Singaporeans, transforming the country's industries and workforce, as well as ensuring environmental and financial sustainability.

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