SINGAPORE: A new portal for Singaporeans looking to support community efforts for the COVID-19 outbreak was launched on Thursday (Feb 20) by Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee.
This comes after Mr Lee said during a COVID-19 press conference on Feb 12 that it would be useful to have a “centralised place” to coordinate ground-up offers of help.
The portal, found at www.sgunited.gov.sg, is a one-stop platform for volunteer and donation opportunities from both charities and the public.
Despite the concerns over COVID-19 by Singaporeans “fearful of the impact of the disease”, the response has been “strong” and “encouraging”, said Mr Lee, at the launch of SG United portal at a food packing session for charity Food from the Heart.
“There’s concern, there’s worry, there’s fear, but equally Singaporeans are saying, 'we will not be moved. We will act and act positively',” he said.
“Equally, Singaporeans have asked us - with all this need on the ground, how would they know where to go to, what kinds of needs ... And what they can do to play a part.”
The portal is “in response to people, to give better signposting of the needs on the ground”, said Mr Lee.
There are four tabs on the website: volunteer, donate, support and share.
Those looking to volunteer for COVID-19 efforts will be directed to an SG United-specific landing page on volunteer platform giving.sg.
Donations can be made to funds such as the The Courage Fund, which is administered by the National Healthcare Group, and the Community Foundation of Singapore’s Sayang Sayang Fund.
Singaporeans can also make in-kind donations for items requested by social service agencies on cityofgood.sg.
Community stories of citizen-led initiatives and community-generated health resources on COVID-19 will also be available on the website. All stories and resources will be curated by the SG United team.
The portal will also allow Singaporeans to pen appreciative messages via links to other websites.
Explore our interactive: All the COVID-19 cases in Singapore and the clusters and links between them
For real-time updates, interested parties can check the SG United Telegram channel. Those interested in volunteering may also refer to the SG Cares app for opportunities.
The portal was developed by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.
The site will be live for the duration of COVID-19, after which it will be archived.
Members of the public who would like to post their own ground-up initiatives may do so on the SG United site. The team will respond within two to three working days.
HELP FOR SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
The Ministry of Social and Family Development and the National Council of Social Service will also provide charities which are members of the Council with S$3,000.
This is "to help them with COVID-19-related expenses such as disinfection, such as cleaning, such as the procurement of additional PPE and safety equipment, and also to help them with business continuity measures", said Mr Lee.
SG United will also help charities meet manpower needs, after some charities reported seeing volunteers pulling out.
READ: ‘Not enough manpower to get food to people in need’: Food charities hit as coronavirus measures ramped up
Food from the Heart CEO Sim Bee Hia said that the charity had 22 sessions cancelled from Feb 10 to Feb 29, after corporations and schools pulled out of the sessions.
"So we were looking at 300 to 400 people that we needed to get the (food) packs out," she said.
Although Food from the Heart has always used their own channels to call for volunteers, the portal will greatly expand their reach.
"With a new portal, what is different with this is the posting of (community) stories and it will help us to reach out to more people. People who don't know us will now be able to go into a central portal where they can check out all the charities who need help."
She added that sharing community stories was also "critical" during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"When you share stories and words of encouragement, it makes a lot of difference to us in the sector and to our volunteers, and you will be able to push us further," she said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story suggested that The Courage Fund is managed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development. This is incorrect. We apologise for the error.