Programme that pairs corporate volunteers with VWOs and social enterprises in South West District launched

Mayor of South West District, Ms Low Yen Ling, greeting residents at the NTUC Health Nursing Home.ST VIDEO: NATHASHA LEE
Love-a-Home @ South-West is a new initiative that links organisations interested in volunteering to voluntary welfare organisations.
Love-a-Home @ South-West is a new initiative that links organisations interested in volunteering to voluntary welfare organisations. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - To encourage more people to become volunteers in South West District, a new programme was launched on Friday (June 9) to pair corporate volunteers with voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and social enterprises.

Called Love-A-Home @ South West, the programme matches workers from companies to these organisations by assessing a firm's corporate social responsibility aims.

Long-term commitments of at least a year are made between both parties to ensure sustainable volunteering.

The programme was launched by South West Community Development Council (CDC).

"This initiative by the South West CDC aims to strengthen the social support in the community and promote volunteerism in the South West District," said Ms Low Yen Ling, mayor of South West District, in a speech. She was the guest of honour at the launch held at the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) Health Nursing Home (Jurong West) on Friday.

Corporate volunteers were chosen as the first group to be focused on for the programme as many companies expressed interest in being able to volunteer at a specific location for a long period of time.

One hundred organisations in South West District, such as nursing homes and children's homes, are expected to be paired up with companies under the new initiative. Any company is able to apply for the programme.

Engines manufacturer Cummins Asia Pacific is the first company to have been matched with a VWO under the programme. Some 60 staff volunteers have been organising activities such as Christmas and Chinese New Year celebrations for residents at the NTUC Nursing Home (Jurong West) since last December.

"We wanted to have more interaction," said Mr Adwin Chua, a Cummins community involvement team member. "So far it looks pretty good, as per what we wanted to engage the residents."

Mr Chua added that many of his colleagues were enthusiastic about volunteering at the home, with volunteering sessions being completely booked within a couple of days after they were made available. "It's a bonding session for fellow colleagues as well. It makes us feel like we've done an achievement in engaging the elderly residents."

Ms Ca'uis Chan, senior manager of community partnership and client relations at NTUC Health, said that many groups would previously volunteer on an ad-hoc basis with the home due to conflicting commitments and a "worry that they would need a specific skillset" to be volunteers.

She said that having volunteers on a regular basis would help the nursing home to provide more activities for its residents.

"We really hope more corporations come in on a regular basis," she said. "It's such engagement with the volunteers that the nursing home residents look forward to."

Cummins Asia Pacific and NTUC Health had been introduced to each other through the programme. Ms Chan added that the company expressed interest in continuing their involvement with NTUC Health after this year.

On Friday, 30 Cummins staff volunteers weaved ketupats and coloured heritage-themed images with the nursing home residents. The activities were chosen after a survey on the interests of the nursing home residents.

To prepare for Friday's event, the volunteers attended an orientation session to equip them with skills for befriending the elderly, such as how to help the elderly with movement problems.

Madam Chim Boh Koon is one of the 30 nursing home residents who took part in the programmes. The 70-year-old, who has been at the nursing home since last year, said in Mandarin: "The activities we do with the volunteers help us lead a fulfilling life. My son wants me to come home, but I can't bear to leave."

Correction note: This story has been edited to describe Cummins Asia Pacific as an engines manufacturer, and also to correct the name of Mr Adwin Chua. We are sorry for the errors.