New fund launched for senior volunteers

$40m Silver Volunteer Fund will support schemes, training, new tech and recognition

The Ukelele Activity Circle, made up of senior volunteers, performed at a ceremony to promote senior volunteerism.
The Ukelele Activity Circle, made up of senior volunteers, performed at a ceremony to promote senior volunteerism. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The President's Challenge charity movement is aiming to raise $10 million for a new Silver Volunteer Fund, which will encourage elderly Singaporeans to give up their time for good causes.

The Tote Board has also pledged $10 million to the fund, which will be worth a total of $40 million when matched with funding from the Government.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam announced the fund as he launched the National Senior Volunteer Month yesterday. He hopes the scheme will tap into a pool of "modern active agers" who are more educated and confident than previous older generations.

"Though Singapore is faced with a rapidly ageing population, our seniors in the next one to two decades will be healthier, more active and more talented," said Dr Tan.

Some of the government funding will come out of the $3 billion five-year Action Plan for Successful Ageing announced by the Health Minister last Wednesday.

The Silver Volunteer Fund is the first initiative to be formally launched under the action plan and will start next year. The money will support organisations in four areas: Programmes with volunteering opportunities, training, developing technology to manage volunteers and recognition.

A new award category for senior volunteers will be added to the annual President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards.

"Through senior volunteerism, we can harness the immense creativity, energy and talents in our older Singaporeans," said Dr Tan.

"Through senior volunteerism, older Singaporeans can be a positive new social force in our nation building beyond SG50, helping to drive our nation forward in the years to come."

Mr Gurdip Singh, 62, spends three hours a week volunteering at Changi Airport as a senior ambassador for non-profit organisation RSVP Singapore. He points out shopping and eating spots to travellers who ask for directions.

He said: "I retired two years ago from running a retail shop in Serangoon Road and I already did what I wanted to do.

"I travelled, I read, I did photography but something was lacking. I want to give back to society and be productive."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline New fund launched for senior volunteers. Subscribe