Moves to boost regular volunteering

Moves are afoot to encourage people to volunteer regularly.

While more Singaporeans are volunteering, many do it on a one-time basis.

Encouraging volunteering over a sustained period of time will be one of the aims of Singapore Cares, a movement led by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), to be officially launched in the latter part of next year.

These details were shared at an event attended by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday where volunteers shared their experiences.

Ms Ng Ling Ling, NCSS' assistant chief executive officer, said the social service sector requires schools and companies, among others, that can commit time and service for a longer and regular period.

For the sector, the focus will be on bringing on board organisations and building partnerships, she said.

One company that is looking to develop sustained volunteerism is Singapore Power.

It will work with Touch Community Services in a pilot project next year to have staff spend time to befriend elderly clients at a senior activity centre over a few months.

Staff will be able to take part during office hours, helping with needs like serving breakfast and leading morning exercises.

Under the movement, the NCSS will also coordinate volunteering opportunities to serve the needs of voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs).

According to feedback gathered by the NCSS over the past two years from VWOs, certain needs remain underserved while others such as organising Christmas parties for elderly residents and children in homes were catered to in excess.

Needs that were underserved in the community include caregiver support and those of children and youth with mental health issues.

While the number of people volunteering has grown over the years - with one in five people volunteering in 2014, up from one in 10 in 2000 - the movement also hopes to get more to come forward.

Mr Hussain Fathah, a volunteer with the Youth Corps Singapore, which provides volunteer opportunities for the young, said he hopes that people will also understand the purpose behind volunteering.

"One-off events can inculcate this habit of people volunteering but not caring. This defeats the purpose of volunteerism.

"We must do (this) because we care," said the 20-year-old Singapore Polytechnic student.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Moves to boost regular volunteering'. Print Edition | Subscribe