How many of us volunteered in schools just to fulfil the minimum CIP requirements? Even though volunteering is no longer compulsory for some of us, here’s the catch: happy people give and gain more with volunteer work! Having volunteered with numerous beneficiaries, I’ve never regretted it – it is the simple knowledge that I’d made a difference which continues to motivate me.
Being pragmatic Singaporeans, we think that volunteering involves losing time and money, or that our schedules are too tight. But what about the intangible benefits? Depending on our commitment levels, skills, and interest, there is always a cause and an organisation we can help out at.
To make volunteering as convenient as possible for you, here is a complete list of 36 places where you can make a difference, ordered by location.
For more on volunteering in Singapore:
Baking classes with kids
Image credit: Bethel Community Services
Bethel Community Services offers an array of schemes and assistance programmes for the alleviation of poverty, suffering, ignorance or ill health. Anyone in need of counselling can seek help at the services available, such as the Bethel Legal Clinic, Bethel Social Services, Bethel Student Care Centre etc.
Are you a baker, artist, or singer? Volunteering can be fun if you do what you enjoy – conduct a baking workshop, mentor a younger one, organise art and craft classes, and even teach the students basic jewellery creation!
Image credit: SANA
Singapore Anti Narcotics Association (SANA) was set up to prevent drug abuse in Singapore. Helping to remove tattoos and enrich families, SANA provides assistance through their anti-drug and rehabilitation programmes.
Innocent-looking yet deadly, we’ll never know if the people around us have fallen prey to it. Join in the fight against drugs – become a service facilitator, para counsellor, outreach ambassador, photographer or videographer!
Address: 2 Sengkang Square, Sengkang Community Hub, #05-01, Singapore 545025
How to Volunteer: Fill in their application form here and submit it by email
Help out in a soup kitchen
Image credit: Willing Hearts Singapore
Willing Hearts is a 100% volunteer-run soup kitchen which cooks and distributes about 3,000 meals to the needy every day. With the vision of improving the lives of the underprivileged through the provision of their ‘daily bread’, Willing Hearts guides them through rehabilitation and integration into society.
As I was cutting vegetables, this realisation hit me – others struggle to put food on the table, yet here I am taking my meals for granted. Everyone should volunteer here once – simply walk in, and you’ll be directed to help out with the preparation, collection or delivery of food. As we look forward to our next meal, there are others who rely on Willing Hearts for their basic staple food.
Address: 11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51, Kembangan – Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074
Telephone: 6743 0725
How to Volunteer: Register on their Eventbrite page
Image credit: Matchsticks of IMH
Singapore’s psychiatric hospital, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) offers a range of psychiatric, counselling and rehabilitative services for its patients. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to the name ‘IMH’, with many false misconceptions and generalisations about people with mental illnesses.
The only people that many patients see are their therapists, and undergoing treatment can be lonely without encouragement and motivation. Through your efforts, you can make them feel remembered and cared for, and build long-lasting relationships with them. Be it conducting social and recreational activities such as outings and karaoke, or simply spending time with the patients, a simple gesture of kindness will go a long way in bringing joy.
Image credit: Singapore Association for the Deaf
We tend to take our 5 senses for granted, but can you imagine a world without music, let alone sound? The Singapore Association for the Deaf aims to help the deaf achieve a better quality of life, enabling them to integrate and contribute to society. Through programmes such as financial assistance, counselling and employment services, the deaf are empowered to lead independent lives.
Being blessed with the gift of hearing, put yourself in the shoes of your fellow counterparts – by learning sign language, building up their self-confidence, and raising awareness of the vibrancy of the deaf community.
Image credit: SPCA
If you love furry creatures and don’t run away from them, volunteering at animal shelters is just for you. SPCA, Animal Lovers League and Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter are three animal shelters located in the East. These shelters are home for abandoned animals, providing a safe haven to protect them from further trauma.
Although you can’t get a pet due to mummy’s orders, channel your love by caring for the animals’ welfare, such as bathing and walking the dogs, or help out in fundraising and outreach! Do note that SPCA has a minimum age requirement, and visits to Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter are by appointment only.
SPCA: 31, Mount Vernon Road, Singapore 368054
Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter: Ericsson Pet Farm, 18 Pasir Ris Farmway 2
Animal Lovers League: 61 Pasir Ris Farmway 3, Singapore 518232
How to Volunteer: Fill in the application form here (SPCA), here (Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter), or here (Animal Lovers League)
Image credit: Mendaki
Yayasan Mendaki is one of Singapore’s pioneer self-help groups in Singapore, with subsidised schemes targeting the bottom 30% of the Malay population. Providing preventive and developmental programmes, Mendaki works closely with schools, mosques and organisations to empower the Malay community.
When you volunteer, not only will you have the chance to mentor children and befriend them, you’ll even get to grow and maximise your potential through training and development programmes! Now, that’s killing two birds with one stone.
8. St. Hilda’s Community Services – caring for the needs of the elderly
Image credit: St Hilda’s Community Services
With a firm belief in ‘reaching out, touching lives’, the volunteers at St Hilda’s Community Services Centre serve 13 blocks of flats in Tanjong Rhu and 22 blocks of flats in Dakota Crescent and Old Airport Road. Door to door visits have highlighted the plight of the elderly, some of whom are bedridden, uninformed to the services available, or unable to monitor their chronic conditions. The volunteers aim to link the residents up with the relevant services and allow volunteer doctors to attend to them.
With a staff of just 8 and backed by 200 volunteers, volunteers like you are a crucial resource. By volunteering, you can provide the handyman and cleaning services which elderly residents need, or work with the centre on special projects.
Image credit: Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kuan Hospital
The Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kwan Hospital is one of Singapore’s leading rehabilitation centres, with facilities such as in-patient care and a day rehabilitation centre. Patients undergo therapy, or harness the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine to hasten the healing process and regain their function.
As these patients undergo painful treatment, they’ll greatly appreciate your company and listening ear – build relationships with them by playing bingo, chatting with them and befriending them!
Address: 17 Ang Mo Kio Ave 9, Singapore 569766
Telephone: 6345 0054
How to Volunteer: Contact them directly via email or telephone
Image credit: Bright Vision Hospital
Bright Vision Hospital provides a variety of key services to its patients, including rehabilitative and palliative care. With a focus on the needy, sick and the elderly, patients require immediate to long-term care, recuperating from illnesses such as a stroke or fracture.
There are a myriad number of ways to spread cheer to the patients as they undergo treatment, such as being a befriender, celebrating birthdays, assisting in hair cutting and bringing them on sponsored trips around Singapore. Your presence will be their greatest present!
Image credit: Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Unless you’re sick, a hospital is probably the last place you’d visit on a normal day, and patients feel the same way too. Staying overnight (or for several nights) in a clean, sterile environment away from family, they certainly won’t be feeling too happy – and that’s where volunteers like you come in.
Volunteers like you are invaluable in spreading joy and cheer around the ward, distracting the patients from their illnesses and pain. By being a befriender, night sitter, manning the hospital’s mobile library and even running support groups – a small effort could make a patient’s hospital stay much happier.
Address: 11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng, Singapore 308433
Telephone: 6357 2494
How to Volunteer: Contact them directly via email or telephone
Image credit: ACRES
Driven by the belief that animals have feelings, ACRES advocates for animal rights. spearheading an animal protection movement in Asia and educating people on lifestyle choices which do not harm animals.
Many exciting opportunities are available when you become a volunteer at ACRES: save wild animals, assist in animal care efforts, raise awareness on wildlife protection and even educate the public on everything about monkeys! It’s the opportunity to bring out the pet lover in us.
Image credit: giving.sg
MINDS has grown to become one of Singapore’s largest non-governmental organisations for the intellectually disabled. With special education schools and training centres to cater to their educational, vocational, social and welfare needs, MINDS aims to help them lead independent lives. MINDS has even started running a social enterprise, with the intellectually disabled learning how to bake, make handicraft and man a shop.
You have the power to change their lives – spend a day with them and teach them life skills, or bring them around Singapore! Regular volunteers can help out as assistant teachers or assistant training officers, while ad-hoc volunteers can organise outings.
14. Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support Limited – reach out and assist teenage moms
Image credit: Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support Ltd
With a focus on teenage pregnancy, Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support Limited provides counselling and support to teenagers with unplanned pregnancies. Through a 24 hour SMS hotline, teenagers can receive guidance in a friendly and non-threatening way, ensuring that they do not resort to drastic measures out of desperation.
If you’re known as the ‘Aunt Agony’ in class, you can be a mentor and provide emotional support to the teenagers! Otherwise, depending on your availability, you can make monetary or in-kind donations, provide employment to them or help to raise awareness about the cause.
Address: 26 Jalan Klinik, #01-42/52, Singapore 160026
Telephone: 6664 8590
24 Hour Toll-Free Hotline: 8111 3535
How to Volunteer: Fill in this form or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Image credit: EMRS
‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’. At Beyond Social Services, they do the hefty work of an entire village by implementing programmes to curb teenage delinquency, transforming them into responsible youths with respect for the law. With social, educational and community support programmes in place such as family strengthening and community integration, the teenagers are able to integrate back into society.
Utilise your special skills by taking up a variety of direct and indirect service opportunities: be an adventure trainer, event organiser or pre-school teacher, or if you have the skills, an artist or a photographer.
Address: 26 Jalan Klinik #01-42/52, Singapore 160026
Telephone: 6375 2940
How to Volunteer: Register on their web portal here
Image credit: Transient Workers Count Too
Migrant workers may make up one-fifth of our population, yet their presence is often shunned by us. One of the most vulnerable in society, migrant workers are easily exploited, with their circumstances are beyond their control.
TWC2 advocates for the rights of these workers, promoting fair treatment and an improved policy framework through engagement with policymakers. TWC2 also provides assistance to workers, giving access to medical care and fair resolution of dispute cases.
These are the very people who build our homes and keep them clean! With your help in outreach programmes or in the gathering of background information, one small effort can mean everything to a migrant worker.
Address:5001 Beach Road, #09-86, Golden Mile Complex, Singapore 199588
Telephone: 6247 7001
How to Volunteer: Email them for more information and visit their website
Image credit: Grace Orchard School
Grace Orchard School is a voluntary welfare organisation which caters to children aged 7-18 years old. These children are diagnosed with Mild Intellectual Disability and Mild Autism Spectrum Disorders, with an IQ of 50-70. Aiming to shape special lives for significance, the school offers educational pathways which lead to mainstream and vocational training schools, or open employment.
Here’s your chance to live out your ambition as a teacher – accompany the children on excursions, help out with co-curricular activities or even initiate your own service-learning project!
18. Touch Community Services – serve all segments of the needy
Image credit: Run Society
Touch Community Services serves people of all ages in society, from children, youths, family, and elderly to people with special needs. Under each group, there are services catering specifically to them – for instance, cyber wellness workshops for youths, a day activity centre to help the intellectually disabled lead independent lives, and home services for the elderly.
Volunteer at Touch Community Services to touch the lives of people. If you have a car, volunteer for their meal delivery programme ‘Meals on Wheels’; if not, befriend the elderly, become a character coach, or give tuition to at-risk students.
Image credit: Lions Befrienders
Lions Befrienders is one of Singapore’s largest direct service organisations, where befrienders conduct weekly home visits for elderly who have little or no family support. Even though befriending alone seems insignificant, it helps to alleviate the loneliness and isolation of the seniors, providing emotional support to ensure that they age gracefully.
Make friends with the elderly – one simple act can make a world of a difference. Regardless of whether you’re a social butterfly or an introvert, you can provide the much needed emotional support which they lack. After all, your weekly visits could be what they look forward to the most each week!
Address: Block 130 Bukit Merah View, #01-358, Singapore 150130 (and other centres)
Telephone: 1800 375 8600
How to Volunteer: Visit their website to sign up for various opportunities
Image credit: Youth Corps
If you’re more comfortable volunteering with people your age, Youth Corps Singapore is the perfect opportunity for you to meet like-minded peers who are passionate about community service! Youth Corps gives you the training and mentorship to create a positive change in society, through the development of sustainable community projects.
Whether you’re interested in building a community garden for the elderly, or helping psychiatric patients find acceptance, there are many varied and enriching volunteering experiences for you. As long as you’re between the ages of 16 to 35, you’re welcome to be part of the Youth Corps team.
Address: National Youth Council, Blk 490 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, HDB Hub Biz Three #04-10, Singapore 310490
Telephone: 6908 2500
How to Volunteer: Sign up on their portal on volunteer.sg
Image credit: Dover Park Hospice
A non-profit organisation, Dover Park Hospice seeks to meet the needs – be it physical, emotional or spiritual – of patients who are going through their last phase in life. Their programmes of active and compassionate service have brought comfort and closure to terminally-ill patients and their families. Given that the hospice has operating expenses of close to $1 million a year, it is reliant on donations and fundraisers to operate.
As the patients live out their final moments in life, your simple presence and company will help to bring them immense comfort. Volunteer to help out in befriending, giving massages, going on outings and entertainment etc – because every moment matters.
Image credit: KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Hospital stays are always dreary, but why not liven up the kids’ moods by volunteering and spreading some cheer in the ward? You can assist in photography, teach skills such as balloon sculpting and magic tricks, or even become event assistants.
If you’re able to commit as a regular volunteer, you can run clinic play sessions with the children at Specialist Outpatient Clinics, or even bring a mobile library through the hospital and engage the patients with storybooks!
Image credit: OCBC Cycle
Singapore Children’s Society protects and nurtures children and youth of all races and religions. In 2018, the Society reached out to 78,433 children, youth and families in need. Established in 1952, its services have evolved to meet the changing needs of children. Today, Children’s Society operates 12 service centres island-wide, offering services in the four categories: Vulnerable Children and Youth, Children and Youth Services, Family Services, and Research and Advocacy.
They also run Tinkle Friend – a national toll-free helpline (1800 2744 788) and chatline (www.tinklefriend.sg) for all primary school-aged children in Singapore.
If you like listening to others voice their problems, you can even man the Tinkle Friend helpline! Depending on which centre you choose to volunteer at, the types of opportunities will differ – expect to be camp facilitators and tuition teachers.
Image credit: YMCA Singapore
A movement started in 1844 in London, YMCA is a volunteer-based Christian organisation that serves all members of society through programmes to nurture their body, spirit and mind. Through its 16 structured YMCA – Tan Chin Tuan Community Service Programmes, volunteers get to enrich the lives of beneficiaries through activities such as sports, outdoor activities, nature walks and outdoor adventure camps.
These beneficiaries come from a total of 32 partnering voluntary welfare organisations, such as Metta Welfare Association and Fei Yue Community Services. Whether you’re interested in going for outings, reading to others, movies, photography or outdoor activities, there’ll definitely be an opportunity to pursue your interest and volunteer for a good cause!
Address: 1 Orchard Road, Singapore 238824
Telephone: 6336 6000
How to Volunteer: Email for enquiries
Image credit: Singapore After-Care Association
The Singapore After-Care Association (SACA) is an after-care agency for discharged offenders and their families. With the stigma and challenges faced by ex-offenders in gaining employment, as well as emotional and financial challenges families face, SACA provides welfare and rehabilitation services to reintegrate ex-offenders into society.
Just like the theme of redemption in Les Miserables, help ex-offenders reintegrate into society by listening to their problems. If you’re at least 23 years old, have a good listening ear, and want to help ex-offenders move forward in life, this is for you.
Image credit: RDA Singapore
Many have heard of art therapy, but horse-riding therapy? At Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore (RDA), free horse-riding therapy is provided for disabled children and adults. The benefits of horse-riding therapy are actually numerous: besides physical therapy and cognitive improvement, the special bond formed with the horse can have an uplifting effect on the person’s life. RDA works with people of all disabilities – physical, learning etc – increasing their confidence, balance, respiration and motor skills.
If you’re never sat on a horse before, don’t worry – no prior experience with horses is required. As a sidewalker, you’ll get to walk beside the horse and guide the rider to complete certain tasks, all determined by the instructor.
Image credit: Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped
The Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) is an association for the visually handicapped, helping them to gain new skills and independence to integrate into society. SAVH offers facilities such as the low vision clinic, which provides comprehensive clinical assessment and advisory services, and the white cane club, which conducts recreational activities for its members.
Blessed with the gift of sight, you can do so much to help the visually handicapped – assist in SAVH’s programmes, teach computer skills, be a volunteer van driver, or utilise your skills to organise your own activities.
Image credit: HOME
HOME runs a shelter for migrant workers who seek to escape from their abusive employers, and the statistics are shocking – of the 60 domestic workers staying with them, a third have been physically or sexually abused.
Providing humanitarian services, financial services, legal clinics and a women’s shelter etc, HOME aims to bring justice to migrant workers, empower them and enable them to escape from their plight.
At HOME, you can be more than a volunteer, but a defender of human rights for the marginalised. Volunteer as English teachers, befrienders, fundraisers and writers etc!
Image credit: Hope Centre
Hope Centre is a non-profit voluntary welfare organisation which aims to improve the wellbeing of all people. It currently runs a food distribution programme, ‘Breakfast with Love’, at Kampong Glam, while befriending seniors to meet their physical and emotional needs. Hope Centre also offers a tuition programme in the same area, helping underprivileged children with their schoolwork during their foundational academic years.
You can give the people hope as well – volunteer to befriend the elderly though morning exercise, personal interaction and games, or tutor primary school students with their homework. It is only through the efforts of volunteers like you that Hope Centre can live up to its name!
Image credit: Rafflesian Times
Aimed to uplift the Indian community, SINDA is a self-help group with its key thrusts in 3 main areas: education, family services and active collaboration. Originally formed to provide academic assistance to Indian students, besides tuition alone, SINDA also reaches out to families in need of assistance and helps to develop leadership skills in youth.
With before and after school care, numeracy and literacy programmes, and mentorship services, SINDA aims to strengthen families and build a resilient Indian community.
You can choose between children, youths or adults – give tuition, participate in reading programmes, mentor youths, befriend families or even conduct ad-hoc projects!
Image credit: Singapore Red Cross
Many of us grapple with our fear of blood and needles, but with the vast benefits of blood donation, those fears deserve to be confronted. For every blood donation, you get to save up to three lives, receive a free health checkup, reduce your risk of heart disease and burn calories. Those few minutes of your time could add a lifetime of minutes to others!
The Singapore Red Cross Society has permanent blood banks at HSA, Dhoby Ghaut, Woodlands and Westgate, for those who live further afield, there are Bloodmobiles travelling around Singapore too – check out the schedule here. You can even reduce your waiting time by booking an appointment here.
Image credit: giving.sg
Giving.sg is a handy web portal that lists ongoing and future opportunities to volunteer Singapore. If you’re busy and prefer volunteering on an ad-hoc basis, or if you’re unsure of which organisation you’d like to fully commit to, the Giving.sg platform is a great way to get started and find the opportunity that perfectly fits you.
Using the calendar function, you can find upcoming opportunities like karaoke sessions at Bright Vision Hospital or door-knocking with Beyond Social Services. With many different events at different timings, there’ll surely be one which fits your needs and schedule!
Image credit: kidsREAD
We know that the library is more than a place for reading – many of us would have seen exhibitions, competitions or activities going on. But who are the people behind each event? If you love the library, volunteer at your favourite place: help out with workshops, be event assistants, or simply aid in decoration and housekeeping.
The library also runs its kidsREAD programme, where for an hour each week, volunteers can read books to underprivileged children. As you read aloud and watch as the children hunger for every word, you’ll know that you’ve made a difference.
How to Volunteer: Sign up as a volunteer here
Image credit: SPCA
When we think of volunteerism, we think of direct service – physically helping others. However, there are organisations who are in greater need of funds than manpower, and that’s why flag days are still meaningful. Even if most passers-by on Orchard Road dodge your request for donations, participants play an important role in spreading awareness of the organisations they represent.
Besides being the one holding the tin can, the next time you’re approached by a volunteer, don’t run away. Think about others – your sacrifice can go a long way in helping them!
How to volunteer: The full schedule of flag day events by various organisations in Singapore can be found here.
Image credit: Make-A-Wish Foundation
‘If you have one wish, one wish only – to have anything, meet anyone, be anybody or do anything, what would your one true wish be?’
Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening conditions, giving them the strength to fight their illnesses and memories to cherish for life. A wish is granted every 30 minutes worldwide, and since 2003, the Singapore affiliate has granted over 900 wishes.
If you’d like to play a part in granting wishes, you can either sign up as a general volunteer or a wish granter. General volunteers use their skills and expertise to help in the office, while wish granters are involved in the wish-granting journey of a child. Besides that, other alternatives include holding fundraising events, in-kind donations which grants the child’s wishes, and monetary donations.
Image credit: Global Call Against Poverty
ONE Singapore aims to eradicate poverty through the raising of awareness and taking concrete actions. In support of the United Nations’ Millenium Development Goals, such as the promotion of gender equality and reduction of child mortality, ONE Singapore also partners corporate and non-profit organisations in a variety of projects.
Change the world one small step at a time, develop your skills and meet new people when you volunteer with ONE Singapore. Help out in promotion, be a volunteer coordinator, a writer, or even in admin and technical support!
Finding a meaningful volunteer opportunity that is something you’re passionate about is hard enough – let alone finding one that is close by and helps you grow.
With platforms like giving.sg and volunteer.sg, it’s now much easier to discover more areas of service. You can sort volunteer activities by distance from your house by keying in your postal code on giving.sg, or search for activities on specific dates on volunteer.sg.
The SG Cares mobile app allows you to conveniently explore opportunities by interest and by area to volunteer in Singapore
Image adapted from: SG Cares
A sign language course conducted by Touch Community Services
Image credit: Touch Community Services
Volunteering is even more meaningful when you find ways to grow your skills. Not only would you be able to better contribute to society – you’ll also be able to put those event management skills to good use at your company’s next D&D!
If you’re keen on learning languages, Viriya Community Services has free Hokkien and Cantonese courses that will help you better engage senior citizens. Touch Community Services also offers a free basic sign language course that would be a great gateway into volunteering with the deaf.
For valuable interpersonal skills, the Social Service Institute provides courses to help volunteers better serve youth, seniors, and the disabled, while the Samaritans of Singapore and AWARE offer counselling courses.
As able-bodied individuals, we can do our part for society by gathering our friends and volunteering together. Not only are we reaching out to our fellow Singaporeans, but we are also spending quality time wisely with our friends. If the above places aren’t what you’re looking for, you can visit the nearest community centre, or even your school, church, or temple.
Volunteering is more fun when you’re bonding, learning, and growing with people you know, so if you’re hesitant about volunteering alone, call a friend along.
Original article published on 1st Mar 2014. Last updated by Ian Ling on 24th Mar 2020
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