Learning > Inspiration

Getting more seniors to volunteer

Audrey Tan on 28 Sep 2014

The Straits Times


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Greater recognition, training opportunities and flexible volunteer work are some ways in which more seniors can be encouraged to give their time to a good cause.


These were among ideas suggested yesterday during a focus group discussion on senior volunteerism.


Recognition, said participant Habibah Haron, 68, is especially important for new volunteers as it is a form of empowerment. “It shows that seniors are still able to contribute, and no longer thought of as being a burden,” said the retired education officer, who now volunteers as a befriender with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.


Opportunities to learn new skills, such as communication techniques, and flexible volunteer work schedules were other ideas to boost volunteering rates among seniors.


Figures from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre show 19 per cent of retirees volunteered in 2012, up from 16 per cent in 2010. However, this is “not fast enough”, according to Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen, 75, first vice-president of RSVP Singapore, an organisation of senior volunteers. “One challenge is the language barrier in recruiting volunteers as many voluntary welfare organisations are still very English-based,” he said.


Yesterday’s two-hour discussion was the 27th set up to aid the Government in developing an Action Plan for Successful Ageing. About 60 participants, most aged between 55 and 80, aired their views.


Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, who was at the event, said that the ideas discussed were diverse and exciting.


“Volunteering is part of active ageing. When people go out to something that they find a sense of purpose in, they will find that there is a lot of meaning in life,” he said.


“By volunteering, they are adding more life to their years.”


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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