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Social Workers Complement – Not Replace – Support Networks For The Less-Privileged

The argument that less-privileged or disadvantaged Singaporeans should be respected as individuals with agency who are capable of making decisions for their households, rather than as people with problems, is incontrovertible. The same can be said of Mr. Gerard Ee’s related argument that the design of Singapore’s social service ecosystem can be improved by creating an environment of mutual help (ST, Jan. 3). Yet it is not necessarily true that programmes and services offered by the social and community service sector – and by extension, the work of social workers – replace “natural support networks” or “the notion of a caring community”. Instead, three other things seem to be missing: First, an understanding of how social workers should position themselves and their programmes and services; second, research studying the context and conditions of Singaporeans at the margin; as well as third, the involvement of the broader public, beyond those who work within the social service sector. Continue reading

To Improve Volunteerism Rates Among Young Adults, Study School-Based Community Programmes

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin is hardly the first to emphasise the importance of volunteerism in Singapore, with the accompanying statistic that among young adults aged 25 to 34 “only 29 per cent of respondents [to the Individual Giving Survey, administered by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre] in that age group volunteered for a social cause in 2016” (ST, Jan. 27). Yet progress has hardly been made, because little is known about the effectiveness of school-based community programmes – Values in Action, the Community Involvement Programme, and service-learning projects – as well as the reasons why young adults may not be willing to or able to volunteer. Continue reading

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