More volunteers with specialised skills at Red Cross

Commendation Award winners Ravis Cherry Tan and Danny Koh are regular volunteers with the Singapore Red Cross.
Commendation Award winners Ravis Cherry Tan and Danny Koh are regular volunteers with the Singapore Red Cross.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Before Ms Ravis Cherry Tan signed up to be a befriender in Tampines last year, she went for courses such as eldercare and first aid.

The merchandiser said her first-aid skills came in handy when she helped an elderly woman who had fallen down.

The 44-year-old, a volunteer with the Singapore Red Cross (SRC), is among the rising number of volunteers with specialised skills at the humanitarian organisation.

The number has doubled from 19 per cent out of a pool of 8,000 in 2015, to about 40 per cent out of 11,000 today, according to figures released at an SRC award ceremony yesterday. They volunteer their skills in areas ranging from IT consultancy to event hosting.

"The services rendered to the vulnerable have become more complex and require very specialised skills, such as counselling and technology," said SRC secretary-general and chief executive Benjamin William. Skills-based volunteerism can also lead to cost savings for its projects, he added.

At the event held at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled in Lengkok Bahru, eight organisations and 28 individuals were honoured for their contributions to the charity. The SRC said the recipients are actively involved in its spectrum of causes, including the national blood programme, elder aid, and home and day activity for persons with disability.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, a patron of the SRC, was the guest of honour at the ceremony, which was held for the fifth time since 2013.

TV actor Edmund Chen, who has been the SRC's celebrity ambassador for eight years, was awarded the Outstanding Service Award.

Ms Tan, the befriender, was one of the winners of the Commendation Award. The vice-chairman of the SRC's elder aid programme in the north-east district said skills-based volunteerism is more focused.

"It is totally different when you try to befriend an elderly (person) as some are sensitive and stubborn, so you need to listen and understand them."

Another Commendation Award winner, Mr Danny Koh, 43, is a qualified first-aider. The human resource manager, who has been volunteering at the SRC since 2002, said: "It is definitely more useful to be a skills-based volunteer. For example, first aid is a skill we are equipped with and can apply to others."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2017, with the headline 'More volunteers with specialised skills at Red Cross'. Print Edition | Subscribe