Budget debate: New alliances to support mental wellness, learning for seniors and corporate charity

Bold At Work founder Yong Yoek Ling (left) with Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre president Teng Su Ching. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Two new private-public alliances have been set up to improve support for mental wellness, lifelong learning and charity.

Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan announced the new Alliances for Action (AfA) during the debate on his ministry's budget on Monday (March 8), which bring the total of such partnerships to date to 18.

The new AfAs are part of the latest effort by the nationwide volunteerism movement SG Cares to promote partnerships between the people, private and public sectors.

One example is a tie-up between the Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre, a volunteer centre based in the Yuhua constituency, and the ground-up group Bold At Work.

As part of the AfA on Emerging Needs and Volunteerism, the organisations are working together on programmes and activities to promote mental wellness among Yuhua residents while providing the volunteer facilitators with skills training and experience in social care.

In one such activity, known as a "pop-up conversation bar", volunteers will prompt participants to talk about their perspectives or recent life experiences, such as the difficulties they faced in adapting to life amid a pandemic.

Instead of using cash, the participants can "pay" for their drinks and snacks at the bar by sharing their stories.

About 15 volunteers will undergo training by next month, with the Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre looking to eventually train about 50 volunteers and 500 residents of the Yuhua community in total.

Another partnership under the AfA is between CapitaLand's philanthropic arm CapitaLand Hope Foundation; RSVP Singapore, an organisation for senior volunteers; and Singapore Pools.

The organisations will establish a learning centre in Chinatown to help seniors learn about digital technology and how to integrate it into their daily lives.

The centre, which is funded by CapitaLand Hope Foundation and Singapore Pools, will allow seniors to familiarise themselves with tools such as facial recognition systems, digital payment platforms and smart home appliances.

Singapore Pools and CapitaLand will also work together to curate the programmes and send their staff to run the programmes as part of their corporate volunteerism efforts.

Seniors will be encouraged to volunteer to help develop the programmes, or to be guides and coaches at the centre.

Bold At Work founder Yong Yoek Ling (centre) during a mock session of the "pop-up conversation bar". ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

A third initiative under the AfA will focus on facilitating the distribution of donations in kind through a platform to match the demand and supply of donated items such as masks, sanitisers, computers and mobile phones.

Mr Tan also announced a separate AfA that will work towards creating a national blueprint and framework on corporate purpose.

Among other things, it will encourage businesses to incorporate a given social, environmental or other cause into their business strategy and operations, and provide them with a way to measure their impact and track their progress.

Mr Tan told Parliament a study is under way on identifying the enablers and corporate intermediaries as well as uncovering the challenges to doing good.

The preliminary findings are expected by May this year, and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre will then design and develop the blueprint with interested organisations.

Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.

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