New app to help match youth to mentors; 1,000 new volunteer mentors wanted

Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Communications and Information Sim Ann (centre) tours the Mentoring Summit 2020 alongside Youth Guidance Outreach Services staff members Sean Ravie (left) and Sean Foo. ST PHOTO: KELLY HUI
(From left) Mentoring Alliance Singapore chairman Glenn Lim, Mentoring Alliance Singapore Steering Committee member Kelvin Kong and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann launching the new app WeConnect. ST PHOTO: KELLY HUI

SINGAPORE - A new app to help to match youth to suitable mentors who can provide guidance on day-to-day challenges and life advice was launched on Friday (Jan 31) at the National Mentoring Summit.

The platform named WeConnect is an initiative by the Mentoring Alliance Singapore, and will provide training modules for mentors to build up their skills.

The alliance is a non-profit organisation set up in 2018 to share resources among more than 10 youth organisations and promote a local mentoring movement.

Members include Architects of Life, Reach Community Services, Metropolitan YMCA Singapore, Care Singapore and Malay Youth Literary Association.

The alliance hopes to recruit 1,000 more volunteer mentors who can contribute 100,000 hours of mentoring in total.

There are now about 300 mentors, who are working adults or retirees from various fields, and 500 mentees, who are young people seeking mentors through the various youth organisations.

Those interested have to register to use the app that allows mentors and mentees to connect online and communicate on the platform, building rapport before establishing a formal match offline.

They can also sign up for courses and events, and access resources with the app.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth and Communications and Information, was the guest of honour at the summit held at Scape Auditorium.

She said: "An encounter with a caring heart, with a wise mind... has the power to change not just the young person's path in life, his future, but also his ability to help and empower others."

Singapore University of Social Sciences student Leah Lim, 21, has been a mentor to five secondary school students since she began in 2017 with Metropolitan YMCA Singapore.

She plans to use the app to connect with new mentees, as well as find a mentor for herself for advice in career and future planning.

"For our generation, technology is really important. I'm sure many people have at some point Googled if they should enter junior college or polytechnic," said Ms Lim, a second-year social work student.

"The app will allow us to find resources that many people my age might not know how to find."

The annual summit hopes to equip those who are keen to mentor with the necessary skills and empower youth through mentoring to achieve their goals.

This year's summit was attended by 340 mentors and staff from youth-related agencies and organisations.

During the event, the Mentoring Alliance also launched the Asian Centre for Evidence-Based Mentoring, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts' Centre for Evidence-Based Mentoring.

The Asian centre is part of a global network of centres whose mission is to improve channels of communication between youth mentoring researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Its goals include facilitating collaborations with local and international researchers, conducting mentoring courses, and cultivating the exchange of ideas within the international mentoring community.

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