New initiative offers youth volunteers a helping hand

New initiative offers youth volunteers a helping hand
SMU student Yong Shi Yun (left) set up the first campus arm of Habitat for Humanity, while NUS student Jasmine Yeo took a gap semester this month to continue her work at Halogen Foundation Singapore.

SINGAPORE - When things get hectic at work or school, voluntary work usually takes a backseat for many young people.

Not for undergraduate Jasmine Yeo, 21.

The National University of Singapore student took a gap semester this month to continue her work at youth leadership organisation Halogen Foundation Singapore.

"My parents were understandably worried about my decision but were later convinced when they saw how I have grown in confidence," said Ms Yeo, who organises events and leadership workshops at Halogen.

Young people who are interested in community work will now get a helping hand with the setting up of the volunteer youth corps.

The youth corps - for those aged 15 to 35 - will receive allowances if they want to take time out from their studies for full-time volunteering. Details on the allowances will be released at a later date.

They will also receive training and mentoring, government funding for projects and networking opportunities.

The initiative, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally earlier this month, is to spur young Singaporeans to take up community work, and continue to do so beyond their schooling years.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and the National Youth Council (NYC), which will spearhead the initiative, will start with a few hundred volunteers early next year. It hopes to eventually involve some 6,000 young people.

Those active in the youth sector say the move is timely because a good platform to match volunteers to local community service projects is now lacking.

The NYC now offers funding for the Youth Expedition Project but that is mainly for overseas projects.

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