New volunteer centre in Geylang to boost collaboration efforts to meet community needs

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, interacting with CareLibrary participants at the SG Cares Volunteer Centre in Geylang. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION
CCSS staff introducing handmade crafts by the elderly beneficiaries to Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - The social needs of residents in Geylang could soon be better met with the launch of a new centre that aims to grow volunteering efforts and to bring together partners to collaborate and mobilise resources.

On Tuesday (Feb 23), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding which appoints the Care Community Services Society (CCSS), a charity, as the operator of the SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Geylang.

He was accompanied by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling.

The centre, located at 103 Lavender Street, is one of at least eight volunteer centres that have been set up across Singapore since 2018. Other locations include Jurong East, Bedok, Woodlands and Toa Payoh.

The SG Cares office, a unit under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), will support CCSS in its efforts to collaborate with community partners and coordinate resources in Geylang, said Dr Ang Hak Seng, deputy secretary at MCCY. He added that CCSS will strive to grow the volunteer pool at the centre, build volunteer management capabilities of their partners and foster partnerships to meet community needs.

In a Facebook post, Mr Heng noted that while the pandemic has disrupted lives, especially of those who are disadvantaged, he is heartened that many have stepped up to help those who are vulnerable.

Volunteers of CCSS, for instance, have found it more difficult to operate in the wake of the pandemic. "(But) they have also been pleasantly surprised that many more people are coming forward to help," said Mr Heng.

"Indeed, this is the spirit of Singapore Together, where we pull together our energy and resources, to help the vulnerable among us," he said, adding that Singapore must rally more citizens to play a more active part in contributing to society to emerge stronger.

This latest volunteer centre, Mr Heng said, will add to Singapore's efforts to galvanise communities to action. At the recent Budget presentation, he unveiled measures such as a two-year extension of the Business and IPC (Institutions of a Public Character) Partnership Scheme, which will encourage more corporate volunteerism.

"I hope that the measures that I announced at Budget 2021, to encourage giving and support for our social sector agencies, will bring even more people to donate and volunteer," he added.

Mr Tong also said that the pandemic has caused a severe impact on vulnerable segments of society. "At the same time, there is a desire among Singaporeans to care for those who are disadvantaged...Through (the effort to establish volunteer centres), we are forging a strong society to ensure that no one is left behind."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.