Social enterprises and corporates win awards for training youth, social sector staff

President Halimah Yacob gave out awards to the 11 winners of the annual President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards on Oct 11. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - The founder of a youth-focused mental health organisation as well as a social enterprise and its corporate partners have won awards for their efforts to train young people and social sector staff to better help others.

President Halimah Yacob gave out awards to the 11 winners of the annual President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards held by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre at the Istana on Tuesday.

In her speech, she praised individuals and organisations that used their areas of expertise to help those in need.

Mr Cho Ming Xiu, 35, who founded mental health organisation Campus PSY, received a Leader of Good Award. He said students face an increasingly competitive academic environment, with pressures to take on internships on top of their studies.

Young parents also struggle to care for their kids while working from home, amid the stresses of a labour market hit by the pandemic, he said.

"Social media exacerbates all the stresses because young people will see their friends sharing their achievements in school or in the workplace, and sometimes they feel that they're not doing well enough compared to their peers," he added.

He said young people struggling with their mental health are still not coming forward to seek help for fear of being judged by peers as being weak and not good enough, as well as worrying about confidentiality issues, which may hinder future scholarship or job opportunities.

Campus PSY trains up to 150 young people every two years on how to identify signs of distress, listen actively, express empathy and how to respond to suicidal peers. They go on to set up mental health communities in their schools to support peers who are in distress.

The organisation also partnered TikTok Singapore on an eight-week training programme in 2021, where students learnt content creation to raise awareness of mental health struggles and share stories of recovery.

Two initiatives by social enterprises and corporations received the City of Good Award, which recognises cross-sector partnerships that make an impact.

Social enterprise Empact worked with multinational companies P&G and Credit Suisse to develop the Pro Bono School, which trains social sector staff to improve their organisations' operational processes and corporate governance.

It hopes to plug a skills gap in some resource-strapped social organisations, where staff may take on multiple roles, including corporate functions they do not have expertise in, said a spokesman of the initiative.

Volunteers from P&G have run courses on marketing, media, sales and human resources, while those from Credit Suisse have trained social workers on cash flow management and projections, as well as tech needs assessment.

A total of 1,289 social sector leaders from 413 organisations have participated in over 37 Pro Bono School sessions, said the spokesman.

Mr Cho Ming Xiu, Founder and Executive Director of Campus PSY (left), speaking with President Halimah Yacob and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Another social enterprise, Agape Connecting People, worked with multinational investment bank Barclays to open its training and job placement centre in 2021 to help ex-offenders and single mothers secure employment.

Volunteers from Barclays train them in digital and financial literacy, as well as resume-writing and interview skills. The initiative has since placed more than 180 people into jobs.

Mr Joseph See, Agape's chief executive, said: "They have been placed into frontline roles both in service and sales in the hospitality, healthcare, and logistics sectors, and we are getting a lot of demand and requests from inclusive employers because the economy is opening up."

Agape continues to mentor the individuals for a year and help them with workplace challenges.

The initiative was commended by Madam Halimah in her speech at the award ceremony.

She lauded the 112 companies that were recognised at the Champions of Good conferment ceremony in September as a sign that more corporates are stepping up to do good.

She added that she is heartened by how efforts to help the community have continued beyond the pandemic, with many spanning years or decades.

"Some of you have nudged others into rethinking their priorities, inspired more to consider others before oneself, created new opportunities for the community and given greater meaning to life. ...May you continue your good work and lead the path to a better and brighter future for all."

The 11 award winners are:

People of Good award:

Chng Rui Jie

Mohamad Nazmul Hoque Khan

Grant Pereira

Leaders of Good award:

Cho Ming Xiu

Lim Tanguy

Organisations of Good award:

DBS Bank

Bettr Barista

National Library Board

Canossaville Children and Community Service

City of Good award:

Agape and Barclays

Pro Bono School by Empact, P&G and Credit Suisse

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