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Home / People / Volunteers / Rallying the hearts and spirit of Home Team Volunteers  
Published: 19 Jul 2011 10:00AM (Singapore)
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Rallying the hearts and spirit of Home Team Volunteers
Even before the Home Team Volunteers' Network was launched on 15 July 2011, the team that put it together had been engaging volunteers to help ensure their needs can be catered to. Take a peek at one of the dialogue sessions with the former Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee.
By Jeraldine Phneah
Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee (third from Right) Chairman of the newly formed Home Team Volunteers Network at the network's first series of dialogues. He was also the former Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs. PHOTO: Ang Meng Hui
As a volunteer public education instructor with the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit (CDAU) sharing about fire safety and other emergency response tips has been Warrant Officer (WO) Alvin Lee’s forte for the last three years.

While he is passionate about engaging with the community about emergency preparedness, he was thrilled at the chance to learn and work with the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) paramedics during a cross deployment exercise.

WO Lee, whose profession is an Administration Officer, felt the experience was very fruitful and helped him bring a fresh perspective to his public education sessions with the community.

He recalled how some of his fellow public education instructors wanted to contribute beyond educating the community about safety but did not get the opportunity to do so as they had since dropped out.

He thought cross deployment could be one way to help further engage volunteers.

“It would be good to provide exposure of different kinds, I think together with a more solid recognition policy, we can attract, retain and sustain more volunteers,” he said.

WO Lee shared this at the newly formed Home Team Volunteers' Network's first series of volunteer dialogues.

The network was announced on 15 July 2011 during the Home Affairs Ministry’s annual workplan event, Home Team Convention 2011.

An initiative by the Home Affairs Ministry’s HR Partnerships, former Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee helms the network’s steering committee.

“The Home Team would like to let volunteers who are willing to go the extra mile know how else they can contribute,” he said supporting the need for more cross deployment and development.

“Even though the heart is important, the skills are also important and we want you to be the best that you can be in what you are doing.”

The Deputy-Chairman of the steering committee is the Home Affairs Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Mr Benny Lim. 
During the dialogue, volunteers shared their hopes for more training and recognition.

One prison volunteer said courses were often conducted on weekdays.

As volunteers have to balance their full-time jobs with their volunteering efforts, more weekend courses will allow more volunteers to attend.

For Deputy Superintendent of Police (V) Edwin Ignatius, Head of the Voluntary Special Constabulary (VSC) team in Jurong Police Division, recognition was important in sustaining the spirit of volunteerism and he suggested state recognition could be given to Home Team volunteers.

The good news for these dialogue participants was their voices would be heard.

Cross deployment, training and recognition are areas of focus for the Home Team Volunteers' Network.
The Home Team Volunteer Networks key focus areas. PHOTO: Ang Meng Hui
Assoc Prof Ho said the Ministry values their volunteers as they are one of the Home Team's “key distinctions and strengths”.

He envisions that the network can enhance existing ministry initiatives and “get more people onboard to make the voluntary experience an even better and more effective one.”

This is to ensure the “Home team's basic mission of keeping Singapore safe and secure can be better carried out” he added.

The people behind the Home Team Volunteers' Network are from the Home Affairs Ministry’s HR-Partnerships branch.

It’s Deputy Director Ms Philomena Chong said: “Volunteer management is very much like HR management and it is a very specialized field with many good practices that we can implement.”

She hopes all the volunteers would see themselves as Home Team volunteers through this network and feel like a part of the Home Team.

“This is something we want to foster because the Home Team is so big and there are plenty of opportunities for more interaction and to learn from one another,” she said.
The volunteers offering their suggestions during the Home Team Volunteers Network's dialogue session. PHOTO: Ang Meng Hui
While there are other plans in the works to rally and update volunteers, such as an e-newsletter and a website, the network’s first series of dialogues had already gotten good reviews from Home Team volunteers.

Staff Sergeant Tommy Chu, CDAU emergency service volunteer, said: “This is a very clear effort that the ministry as a parent organization is doing something to engage the volunteers.”

He added that the dialogue provided networking opportunities as it enabled volunteers to interact and share their viewpoints.

However, Mr Chu hopes some of the issues raised will be followed up on as more volunteers will then be encouraged to discuss their views.

For Crime Prevention Ambassador Mr Lionel De Souza, he felt the dialogue was a good platform for him to share experiences and exchange ideas.

He added that networking would bring volunteers of different groups together and help them understand what is happening on the ground and in other divisions.

“When volunteers from many walks of life come together, they can fit the whole jigsaw puzzle,” he said.

Find out more about what Home Team Volunteers do.

Home Team news will be running a series of short stories on their trials and tribulations.

Stay tuned for it in the next few months! 
Watch this video to find out more about our Home Team Volunteers and what drives them:
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More Volunteers:
Citizens on Patrol: Sentinels of safety in the neighbourhood
Singapore’s CD Lionhearters gather to celebrate life-saving
NCDCC cadets work alongside Down Syndrome Association to raise emergency preparedness.
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