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Youth corps volunteers may need to be trained in specific skills: VWOs

The first batch of youth corps volunteers is expected to undergo a training programme in June this year.

SINGAPORE: The first batch of youth corps volunteers is expected to undergo a training programme in June this year.

But some voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) say that volunteers may need to be trained in specific skills, especially when dealing with groups with special needs.

19-year-old Wang Yushi has been volunteering with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) for the past four years.

But when she first started, things were not easy.

"I wasn't sure how to interact with our trainees and beneficiaries. The skills (needed to do so), I probably wasn't equipped," she said.

MINDS CEO Keh Eng Song said: "There is a lot of leadership training, project management training. But the product - I always call it product knowledge - is somehow missing. Understanding disabilities, for example, the dos and don'ts, understanding intellectual disability."

Applications are now open for the inaugural youth corps programme, and its first batch of volunteers will be matched with community partners to work on local and overseas projects.

The government is also seeking consultants to design the blueprint for the youth corps programme.

And it includes coming up with strategies to retain volunteers.

Some VWOs have stressed the importance of networking sessions amongst volunteers.

Singapore Red Cross Secretary-General Benjamin William said: "Networking allows volunteers to talk to other volunteers who they may not otherwise see. (Volunteers can) learn from each other, be encouraged, share war stories and learn about new areas of volunteering and say 'hey, I want to do that'. I think (networking sessions are) very important (in retaining volunteers)."

An allowance will be given to those who intend to participate full time in the youth corps programme.

Volunteers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said that while an allowance may incentivise more youths to come forward, it should not dilute the essence of volunteerism. 

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