A boost to senior volunteerism
A new Silver Volunteer Fund under the President’s Challenge was launched to encourage more seniors to volunteer.
BY: Eleanor Yap
The Silver Volunteer Fund was officially launched by President Tony Tan Keng Yam during the opening ceremony of the National Senior Volunteer Month (NSVM) yesterday to encourage more seniors to volunteer. The new Fund, which will go under the President’s Challenge, will provide funding support to volunteer organisations to recruit, develop and recognise their senior volunteers. This will also include funding for volunteer training and establishment of volunteer management systems.
The Fund will serve as a platform for volunteer organisations to offer volunteering opportunities in areas such as aged care, health and wellness, arts and heritage, horticulture, learning and community development.
Talking about the Fund, President Tan said: “I hope to provide a platform for members of the public, people and private sectors to be involved in creating a Singapore where Singaporeans of all ages can continue to be involved in creating an inclusive and vibrant society as active valued members of the community.”
To kick-start the fundraising, Tote Board has pledged close to $10 million to the Fund over the next five years and the Government has agreed to match this amount dollar-for-dollar of up to $20 million. The President’s Challenge, which raises community resources to support good causes and encourages volunteerism, will target to raise another $10 million via donations to the Fund, bringing the total to $40 million.
The fund will be administered by the Council of Third Age (C3A) and details on the fund application process and eligibility criteria for the volunteer organisations will be released next year.
All this will give a much-needed boost to senior volunteerism. According to the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre’s (NVPC) Individual Giving Survey, only nine percent of those aged 65 and above volunteered last year. This figure is a drop from previous years – 17 percent in 2012 and 11 percent in 2008. According to a news article, NVPC believes this figure could be due to many seniors delaying retirement, while others may be busy with caregiving duties such as looking after frail or sick loved ones or grandchildren.
Award for seniors
President Tan also shared during the opening ceremony of NSVM that NVPC will be introducing a new award for seniors. Called the President’s Award for Volunteerism and/or Philanthropy (Senior) under the individual category, the first award will be given at the annual President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards taking place on October 14. There is also a similar award for youths and adults. According to NVPC, this will “inspire people to continue giving throughout their various life stages”.
The President further shared to the audience: “Many of you are younger than me but we all believe that age is no barrier to doing good. Active ageing is simply to be engaged in life. And if you ever feel that you’ve grown old and dull, the best way to get over this feeling is to get up and do something useful. In giving and doing good, our spirits are also uplifted.”
Added Koh Juay Meng, president of RSVP Singapore, which organised NSVM, “Seniors are a valuable asset which should never be lost but used to benefit future generations.” He also went on to correct a misconception – “The perception that volunteers are free labour is wrong. It has to be corrected. Volunteers bring not just time but skills to the table.”
NSVM activities started in January and will continue till end of this year. Throughout the months, an array of brief and practical volunteering activities is being offered to seniors who otherwise may not have had a chance to try their hand in community service as volunteers. As of early September, 50 activities have been completed, activating a total of 4,075 volunteers, out of which 64 percent are seniors. To find about NSVM volunteering events available, go to www.rsvp.org.sg.