2020 will go down in the history books, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And as a result of the events, many Singaporeans from different walks of life have been affected by economic effects and lifestyle changes. But since then, many have also banded together to create volunteer opportunities and make sure that no one’s left behind.
Even as we inch closer to greater recovery during Phase 2 with a decreasing number of cases, issues that these groups face like unemployment or lack of support will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.
If you’re inspired to give back to society and volunteer, here are 7 volunteer opportunities in Singapore. Not only will you be assisting the community, but you’ll also provide help for specific groups that have been impacted in various ways such as job-seekers dealing with the recession, or students without access to laptops.
Image credit: Healthserve
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the migrant worker community in Singapore, many of us were made aware of the differences in living standards that local Singaporeans had compared to them. Fortunately, there have been volunteer groups looking out for them since way before the pandemic.
One of them is Healthserve that provides assistance through healthcare services and social services, with people like housewives and lawyers stepping up to volunteer. Activities you can get involved in include volunteering as a dental assistant, a physiotherapy assistant or a nurse.
Image credit: Healthserve
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve also been working closely on the ground with migrant communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes dorm management, and keeping migrant workers up-to-date with government policies and laws, to ensure new laws aren’t accidentally broken.
If you have a passion to help the migrant worker community, you can choose to volunteer with them regularly with a minimum of once per month, on an ad-hoc basis or on casework projects that may require a minimum commitment of 9 months. All you will need to do is to submit a volunteer application form on their website for the role that you are interested in applying for.
Find out more information about Healthserve.
Image credit: AWWA
Even though we’re allowed to leave the house relatively safely now, seniors are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible for their own safety. This can understandably get sian after a while, especially if they are home alone all the time.
At AWWA’s Health and Senior Care Services, you’ll be able to engage and befriend seniors virtually through activities such as online Bingo and Zumba sessions. It doesn’t stop at virtual sessions – volunteers also send gifts like e-cards and snacks to let the beneficiaries know they were thinking of them.
“Sometimes when they donate ice-cream or snacks for our clients, they also get some for us (the staff) to thank us for working so hard to help these people”, Wen Min, an executive at AWWA shared, when asked about some of the small gestures people did throughout the Circuit Breaker to keep their spirits high.
Wen Min also shared that although Zumba sessions over Zoom were initially hard to adapt to, the elderly soon got used to the idea, – and enjoyed having these virtual sessions with the help of volunteers. If you want to engage meaningfully with the seniors, and perhaps make their day, all you’ll need to do is sign up on AWWA’s portal.
Aside from Health and Senior Care Services, AWWA also serves vulnerable families as well as children and youths with additional needs.
Find out more information about AWWA.
Image credit: @engineeringgood
When home-based learning started, Engineering Good started Computers against Covid, an initiative to provide tech access to students from lower income families. Since then, they have been collecting and repairing old laptops to be given to students who did not have access to do their work at home and attend virtual classes.
In response to Engineering Good’s call to action, Shirley, their communications volunteer shared just how heartwarming it was to see the kampong spirit come alive when all their volunteers and partners came together to make the initiative happen and succeed during the COVID-19 period.
“For the 160 to 200 of us volunteers, most of us were strangers but through the period of the Circuit Breaker, we managed to adapt and develop a distributed model of working to get this operation going. That is truly amazing because if you think about it, none of us knew what to expect, it was entirely new. And we made it work.”
Other than donating your old laptop to them, you can also volunteer to be part of the team that repairs and delivers these laptops. For tech geeks out there especially, this is a good way for you to put your skills into practice and give back to society at the same time.
Find out more information about Engineering Good.
Image credit: Ace Tutors
Besides having access to a laptop, another problem that came with not having face-to-face lessons was the unavailability of proper academic help. In light of this, Quek Hui Ying started the COVID-19 Tutoring Support (CTSS) with 5 other friends.
With free tuition provided to primary, secondary and junior college students, this initiative aims to level out the playing field as not everyone may have equal access to educational support. Home-based learning wasn’t a concept familiar to both students and parents alike either.This programme is not exclusive to students who are from lower-income families as Hui Ying and her friends recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lot of instability across the board. “It doesn’t only affect the people that we would normally classify as underprivileged. These are unique times and anybody could just suddenly lose their job.”
“Sometimes I think that I’m serving the community, but the community is actually supporting me,” Hui Ying said, after she shared how parents showed concern about her own life and studies overseas, knowing that her education abroad was also affected.
This initiative will be ongoing till the end of the year, before the organisers will begin referring volunteers and students to other organisations that provide similar support. If you have the academic experience to tutor, this is also something to do part-time!
Find out more information about CTSS.
Image credit: GoodHood
If you have been one of the unlucky ones who have had to serve a stay-home-notice, you would understand the pain of being confined – like getting meals delivered to you and fighting increasing cabin fever.
GoodHoodSG was started by a group of friends during the 2019 December holidays as a platform for individuals to help others around their neighbourhood. From free tuition services to delivering groceries, the platform allows beneficiaries to place their requests for help on the Goodhood app (iOS | Android) and volunteers in the neighbourhood would be notified.
Image credit: Appadvice
This app allows you to give back to the community around you without having too much hassle or commitment. School and work can get quite hectic sometimes, and we may not have the time to commit to long-term volunteering initiatives. But with this app, you can do good for others even with small pockets of time.
Find out more information about GoodHoodSG.
There has been increased discussion about mental health in recent times, especially so when we were all confined at home during the Circuit Breaker, as many mental health organisations and agencies saw a spike in calls and the number of people seeking help.
But Phase 2 doesn’t mean mental health awareness should stop, and Silver Ribbon Singapore aims to continuously change the stigma surrounding related illnesses and encourages positive attitudes instead. Through seminars, events and complimentary counselling services, they provide a safe space for anyone affected, while also promoting greater awareness of mental health in our communities.
During the course of the ongoing pandemic, they have been conducting regular talks online about various topics such as dealing with isolation and loneliness to cater to different groups. Volunteers can sign up to assist in organising such programmes, or in other ways such as lending design skills for their marketing collaterals and as an ad-hoc photographer for their events.
If you want to be more heavily involved, they also conduct training sessions to learn more about mental health and the steps to take in becoming advocates for their cause. If you have personal experiences with mental health issues yourself, you can also volunteer to share them with those in need to provide some hope and inspiration.
Find out more information about Silver Ribbon Singapore.
Image credit: Halogen Foundation
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global recession, which has resulted in retrenchments and a more challenging job market for fresh graduates. But with the number of home businesses that have started during this time frame, it could be an alternative for many to turn to.
Halogen Foundation provides a platform for youths to learn more about the economy and entrepreneurship. Focused on building up and inspiring the younger generation and the lesser-privileged, the initiative achieves this by engaging volunteers to provide mentorship talks, workshops and programmes.
This way, volunteers get to share their experiences and stories with youths to build up their confidence for the working world. They also hold regular Q&A sessions for the youths to gather better knowledge about any industry or skill set they’re interested in.
Linda, a volunteer manager at Halogen Foundation, shared a particular incident with a student that touched her. “He shared with me ‘I didn’t know I had this determination in me.’ I realised it wasn’t so much about him wanting to become an entrepreneur, but more of him discovering his inner potential and realising that people actually believe in him.”
Students like these served as reminders for volunteers such as Linda to persist through the challenges faced during the pandemic when in-person sessions couldn’t take place. Volunteers had to learn new ways to engage their beneficiaries through virtual activities through Zoom calls and virtual workshops, which in turn also helped fuel their passion for their causes.
Linda also shared that it was always heartwarming to see their volunteers become ambassadors and advocates for their cause and in turn recommend their friends to join their initiatives.
Besides helping out as a facilitator to organise the programmes, volunteers are also encouraged to share and plan workshop ideas regarding any industry or field, to help broaden the minds of Halogen’s pool of youth beneficiaries.
Find out more information about Halogen Foundation.
Image credit: Giving.sg
Although the pandemic has put a strain on us, it has also shown us that despite it all, we are still able to come together as a community to lend a helping hand to those in need.
If you’ve never tried volunteering or never knew where to start, it’s never too late – you never know how you will benefit from it yourself. As Shirley from Engineering Good succinctly put it, “Volunteering teaches you empathy, compassion and it gives you the biggest gift of all – hope.”
With SG Passion Made Possible, discover your passions and use them to give back to the community around you. From entertainment to healthcare, there will be many avenues for you to contribute to Singapore’s less-privileged.
Even as the pandemic continues across our city and the world, keep the positivity and continue to pursue helping others. From the conversations with the volunteers from some of these volunteer initiatives, you could even discover a new passion that you never realised before.
As Hui Ying from CTSS says, “It’s always nice to see people willing to learn and go through this experience in such trying times. Even as we go through the challenges in our current situation, we should use our passions to push ourselves and help the people around us.”
This list features just some of the many initiatives out there that provide hope and help to the community and specific groups. If you have been volunteering, you can also share your experiences on social media with the hashtag #ThisisSG and continue to spread positivity with others!
This post was brought to you by the Singapore Brand Office (SGBO). Responses have been edited for grammar and clarity.
Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top-left): AWWA, Ace Tutors, Healthserve.
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