Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at Team Fiesta @ Bedok Carnival on 2 December 2022.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon. I am very happy to join you today for the TEAM Fiesta @ Bedok carnival. It is wonderful that we are able to come together as a community to participate in bigger scale in-person events, with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Walking in, I can see so many of you so energetic, and I am glad to see so many of you here enjoying yourselves today.
SG Cares Giving Week and TEAM Fiesta
The timing of this carnival could not have been better as it coincides with the SG Cares Giving week. Launched in 2017, SG Cares is a movement to mobilise the community to put values into action through active volunteerism, ground-up efforts, and everyday acts of care. And as part of this movement, the annual SG Cares Giving Week galvanises the community to step forward to contribute and make a difference. So this is a special week for us to come together as a nation to affirm and celebrate the spirit of giving.
Today’s event is a good example of how the community can work together to give back. I thank the SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Bedok, operated by Filos Community Services, for bringing the Bedok community together to organise this event. This is the first time that a SG Cares Volunteer Centre is hosting a carnival of this scale. More than 500 beneficiaries have been invited to have a fun-filled day at this carnival. I am sure everyone will have a very enjoyable time exploring the various carnival games, workshops and food stalls. I thank the 20 partner organisations - social service agencies, corporates and volunteer organisations that have come together to make this happen. I hope that through this carnival, we foster greater collaboration among the partner organisations.
Staff and Volunteers
I wanted to also give a special mention to the social service practitioners and volunteers. You are the ones who have made today’s carnival possible. It is very encouraging to see so many volunteers working alongside one another in putting the event together. And beyond the carnival, you are the silent heroes, making a real difference to countless families.
There is more that we can do to mobilise the energy and ideas of volunteers. While the pandemic had made it more difficult to physically volunteer, NVPC’s survey has found that 1 in 2 said that they were likely to volunteer in the future. I hope now that we are learning to live with COVID, there will be more who are stepping forward to volunteer their efforts. Better engagement of volunteers will be key. The National Council of Social Service, or NCSS, has recently developed the Volunteer Management Maturity Matrix, a digital assessment tool that social service agencies can tap on, to strengthen their volunteer management capabilities.
The SG Cares Volunteer Centres also play a useful role in mobilising the energy of these volunteers and fostering community partnerships. SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Bedok, run by Filos, was one of the first centres launched 3 years ago. We have progressively rolled out more Volunteer Centres across all towns in Singapore and there are now 24 operational centres. The volunteer centres will serve as central nodes in each town to coordinate the efforts of volunteers from various community stakeholders, schools, corporates, religious organisations. This will bring opportunities to donate and volunteer closer to all.
The Volunteer Centres are still quite new, but I am glad to see that there have already been some promising results on the ground. For example, Filos has a staff strength of 27 but manages a volunteer force of close to 2,000. You have done so by constantly improving your volunteer management system, including leveraging on technology. Due to the strong pool of volunteers, Filos was able to serve more than 37,000 service users, involving families, children, youth and seniors, in 2021. Well done!
As we look ahead, this spirit of cohesion will continue to be critical for Singapore. We will continue to face many challenges, such as an ageing population. But one key silver lining from COVID is that it has shown us that there is a strong sense of cohesion and trust within our communities. Building on this, we can take the next step, to strengthen our social compact through the Forward Singapore exercise. Each of us can do our part to build a caring and inclusive society – whether as an individual, a community group, or a corporate.
In closing, I thank the SG Cares Volunteer Centre @ Bedok, community partners, corporate partners and volunteers, for making this event possible. Indeed, there is a lot of energy and ideas within the community, and we can make better progress if we work together. I wish everyone a most enjoyable day ahead at this carnival.
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