SINGAPORE: The use of technology to encourage volunteering and foster social good is being studied as part of a wider effort to create a “society where everyone both gives and receives the care and support they need”, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu in Parliament on Wednesday (Mar 7).
Speaking during the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Committee of Supply debate, Ms Fu said about 50 per cent of Singaporeans are already familiar with online giving, and 25 per cent actively support charitable social media campaigns.
“Technology has made it easy and convenient for us to provide quick help, collaborate and form community,” she said.
As such, the ministry will be exploring how to provide a one-stop avenue where Singaporeans, particularly those who want to help but do not know where or how to start, to find volunteering opportunities. The minister pointed out the recently launched SG Cares app is a “good start” as it is a free mobile app that allows everyone to be plugged into the community of volunteers and opportunities.
In a separate press release by MCCY, it will be enhancing Giving.sg and integrating the enhancements into the SG Cares app. The former currently has 133,000 registered volunteers and donors, as well as 492 non-profit organisations and, with the revamp, the total amount of cumulative donations is $112 million and 124,000 volunteer sign-ups, the ministry said.
“We are bringing the users of Giving.sg onboard SG Cares app, where users can also share their stories and access learning resources,” MCCY said.
“We will better integrate the two platforms to provide a seamless experience for users and build a social network of volunteers and social tech entrepreneurs, where we can share our experiences, learn from one another and serve the community together.”
GETTING CORPORATES INVOLVED
Additionally, Ms Fu also said her ministry will focus on encouraging corporations in Singapore to volunteer as part of the SG Cares movement.
Echoing what MP Lim Wee Kiak had said, the minister said corporates must be “key players in the field of volunteerism”. “Many of us spend significant hours at work and want to work with a company that does good for society.”
One way is through the Company of Good programme by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). As part of this, the Company of Good Fellowship will be reviewed and the improved version launched by the first quarter of 2019, MCCY said. The fellowship is a five-month community building and leadership learning programme for corporates wanting to give back by empowering their top talent.
Ms Fu cited the example of Fullerton Hotel as one of the participating companies, which launched the Fullerton Academy in February to mobilise staff and partners as volunteers to provide training for youths from REACH Community Services.
MEETING PEOPLE’S NEEDS BETTER
Ms Fu also mentioned two pilots in Bedok and Jurong East, where more coordinated plans between various organisation like NVPC, National Council of Social Service, social and healthcare organisations, corporates and the community have been developed to better meet needs on the ground.
In Jurong East, for example, she mentioned how various stakeholders are working together to serve seniors in different ways. Loving Heart Multi Service Centre, which acts as a central coordinator, would receive referrals from grassroots networks and the Social Service Office on seniors who require support. It would also link up with partner organisations, refer residents to service providers and mobilise community support, she elaborated.
Other partners include St Luke’s ElderCare, which provides rehabilitation programmes, Touch Community Services that does home visits and provide services like counselling and transitional care from the hospital and Thye Hua Kuan Moral Charities Senior Services, which offers recreational activities and courses to keep seniors engaged and connected with the community, the minister highlighted.
“The SG Cares movement has helped to bring these stakeholders together, to map out needs, roles, resources and areas where we need more volunteers,” Ms Fu said.
“By combining our efforts and resources, we have a better picture of the needs in each community and how the various partners can work together to provide more seamless and citizen-centric support.”