NTUC FairPrice to raise staff volunteering hours

Singapore’s largest supermarket chain operator NTUC FairPrice aims to raise its staff volunteer hours to 2,300 hours by 2016.

Last year, its volunteers clocked a total of 200 hours through ad-hoc projects.

NTUC FairPrice also plans to increase the number of volunteering activities from 12 in 2011 to 75 by 2016.

To drive this initiative, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, Mr Seah Kian Peng, appointed 13 volunteer leaders to develop a structured staff volunteer programme.

Mr Seah said: “We also hope that by doing this, we can encourage more, other corporates, to also play their part to create a bigger impact for the community.

“This we believe is our way – in being a big employer… we should lead, in terms of creating a bigger social impact and helping to build a better community.”

FairPrice will also work with YMCA and voluntary welfare organisations, such as Food from the Heart, Ren Ci Nursing Home and Society for the Physically Disabled.

66-year-old Chew Eng Huay is thrilled whenever NTUC volunteers visit her at the Ren Ci Nursing Home.

She said: “There are many NTUC volunteers who come during Chinese New Year to toss ‘yusheng’ (raw fish salad) with us. It makes us happy as we sing and dance.”

Data from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, released last September, show that volunteerism fell from 23 per cent among 20 to 24 year olds to 16 per cent among those aged 25 to 29.

Research has also shown that volunteer activities organised by employers will attract more volunteers. They will also entice those who have stopped volunteering due to work commitments to pick it up again.

25-year-old human resource executive Chantal Ong used to volunteer when she was studying in university, but stopped when she started working.

She said: “I think it’s the time factor – because as a fresh grad, I will want to spend more time on my career, and then slowly adapting to the company and the work processes. So actually when FairPrice has this initiative, and I’m being nominated as a volunteer leader, I was quite happy to take it up.”

This article was first published in CNA

Anti-shark’s fin campaign catching on with MPs?

A bowl of shark's fin soup

Even as an animal welfare group prepares to submit a formal proposal to the authorities for the banning of the shark’s fin trade here, a movement to get the dish off the dining table is catching on among some Members of Parliament and grassroots leaders.

At least three wards – Chong Pang, Canberra and Cashew – have stopped serving shark’s fin soup during grassroots functions.

Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament (MP) K. Shanmugam, who looks after the Chong Pang ward, told TODAY: “I took the view that we should avoid shark’s fin on the menu for functions which Chong Pang organises. I spoke with my grassroots leaders and they were supportive of the move.”

Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Law and Foreign Minister, said the decision was made in June last year after an animal welfare forum held by Chong Pang Community Club in collaboration with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES).

He added that, personally, he had decided for some time not to consume the dish.

At a youth forum in 2010, Nee Soon GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak, along with other MPs present, was asked if he would refrain from serving the Chinese delicacy during constituency dinners.

Dr Lim, who takes care of the Canberra ward, replied that he did not think he would and, while he did not want any sharks to become extinct, he pointed out that not all shark populations were endangered.

Alluding to his earlier comments, he told this newspaper that his position remains unchanged. The recent decision is not a “ban” per se, he said.

“The step forward was not an official position … part of it was also not to be too ‘extravagant’. Nutrition-value wise, other things are more nutritious. Fish maw is better,” said Dr Lim, who added that the issue is sensitive and “not everybody” will agree with the decision.

Cashew ward is under the charge of Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan. Grassroots leader Linda Ng said a “conscious effort” has been made to replace shark’s fin with fish maw at the ward’s functions since late last year. Their reasons included budget considerations and residents’ preferences, as well as “the knowledge of how shark’s fin is created” as a dish, said Mdm Ng, who chairs a residents’ committee.

This article was first published in TODAY

7 habits of green conscious S’poreans

Earth Day was celebrated here and around the world on April 22 with events to remind us to do our part for the environment. After Earth Day, are we continuing our environmental efforts?

There are seven habits commonly found in people who are green conscious. We could learn these habits and take individual actions so that Earth Day becomes a daily event.

One, respect and renew our bond with nature and its biodiversity. Nature has much to teach us on how to live with the rest of life on Earth. Without this respect and bond, there will be no desire to protect nature. Start exploring nature areas such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Chek Jawa and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and join the guided walks.

Two, read up on local and global environmental issues, from various channels such as websites, books, newspapers and non-government organisations. What are the current trends and problems? What needs to be done?

Three, reduce our environmental impact in energy, water and waste. Embrace sufficiency in our consumption and practise the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) in our daily lives.

Reduce by not creating wastage or minimising waste in the beginning. Reuse by using the waste several times or for another purpose. Recycle by sending the waste to be processed as a resource.

Four, spread the green message to family, friends, classmates or colleagues. Share our knowledge with them and post about environmental problems and solutions on social media.

Influence our organisation, be it a school, company or social group, to be more environmentally friendly.

Five, participate in government initiatives such as the National Environment Agency’s National Recycling Programme and the National Parks Board’s Community In Bloom programme. Support local NGOs and join their activities or volunteer.

Six, participate constructively as active citizens in the formulation of government policies on the environment. This could be through government dialogues or feedback channels and through the media.

We can advocate green causes we feel strongly about and try to persuade the Government in rethinking its policies and decisions.

Seven, choose to be a responsible consumer. Buy only what we need and always think twice before buying. Choose more eco-friendly products with less impact and made by sustainable businesses.

Buy ethical products and support businesses that take care of their employees’ well-being.

We can all commit to adopting these habits and to do our part for our only home. Let us celebrate Earth Day daily.

This article was first published in TODAY

Volunteerism Conference 2012

NVPC & SG Cares are organising a 3-day Volunteerism Conference 22 to 24 May 2012 at YMCA. The conference will explore and address issues, share ideas about engaging, raising and promoting the spirit of volunteerism with international guest speaker and volunteerism veteran, Susan J. Ellis.

You can also read about it from the Conference website: www.sgcares.org.

Be part of this Conference, and spread the word to whom you think will be interested and can benefit from this Conference, where volunteerism takes centre-stage!

Do invite your friends to join us for either of the 2 complimentary Volunteer Power! sessions planned for you!


Volunteer Power!
22 May 2012 & 23 May 2012
Register here for the session on 22nd May, 7pm to 9pm
Register here for the session on 23rd May, 7pm to 9pm

(Similar content covered on both days to cater to the varying schedules of volunteers)

Target Audience: For anyone and everyone keen to explore volunteerism

Make this year your challenge to be a leader of social change. This session sees like-minded people exchanging thoughts and in-depth views on being a proactive volunteer. Attend this session to realise the power in you!


IMAGINE: A World of Volunteers + Community Networking Session
24 May 2012

(You will be prompted to sign-up for this segment in the registration for the “Volunteer Power!”)

Target Audience: For all participants of the 3-day conference

A closing segment of the conference, participants are encouraged to join us in this networking session and explore areas of collaboration and further discussion of the conference learning points. What better way to take away from the conference than meeting potential partners from the various sectors?


Conference website: www.sgcares.org

Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sgcares

For further enquiries, email volunteer@sgcares.org.