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Recruiting 1,000 volunteers for 100,000 youth mentoring hours

Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister Of State, Ministry Of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry Of Communications and Information at National Mentoring Summit on 25 January 2019, 9.10am At Metropolitan YMCA

25 January 2019

Mr Glenn Lim, Chair of Mentoring Alliance

My Parliamentary colleagues, Mr Teo Ser Luck and Mdm Rahayu Mahzam

Members of the Mentoring Alliance, and Steering Committee

Distinguished speakers who have come from near and far

Representatives from organisations that are devoted to serving our young people

Ladies and Gentlemen


Good morning everyone. It is my great pleasure to be joining you today. This is the inaugural National Mentoring Summit, and it is the first major project undertaken by the ground-up Mentoring Alliance[1]. I think I speak for all members of the Mentoring Alliance, particularly the organising committee when I say that we have all been dreaming of this day for a long time. I think that the strong support by all of you attending today really touches our heart. Thank you very much for being here and helping us co-create a very important dream for Singapore.


Providing greater opportunities for all through mentoring

2. Now what is this dream for Singapore? It is to develop our next generation through mentoring. Its impact on youth has been backed by research, which shows that young people receiving mentorship are more active in the community, they are more resilient when facing setbacks, and they have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence.[2] This is the key reason why so many of us particularly the founder members of the Mentoring Alliance believe that mentorship should be available to all Singaporean youths, regardless of race, language or background.                                                                     

3. Indeed, I would say that mentoring should be of interest to anyone who cares about addressing inequality in society. Mentorship, in the form of guidance provided by a caring and responsible adult figure, can make a lasting and positive difference to young lives, including those from backgrounds who do not have access to any role models to nurture or support them adequately. I also believe there are many untapped potential mentors out there, especially among our older Singaporeans with their varied and rich life experiences. It is therefore the shared dream of all of us at the Mentoring Alliance to make mentorship a way of life.

4. For those of you who are already engaged in mentoring others, let me encourage you to keep going, and also to reach out to bring others along the journey with you. Although mentoring itself may be a long journey, it is also extremely rewarding – especially when we see our mentees pay it forward by becoming mentors themselves. It is a critical role that I believe that many more can play in society, where we reach out and make a connection with fellow human beings, and model positive behaviours and mind-sets that we hope that can shape young people for generations to come.

Growing a mentoring movement to nurture our youths

5. Looking back, I am grateful for those who have gone before us and who had started the ground work for a national mentoring movement to take root. In particular, I would like to acknowledge, Mr Teo Ser Luck, who is here with us today. During his time at the former Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, Ser Luck and his team recognised the need for more effective mentoring practices, as well as more mentors who are well-equipped to guide our young people. Ser Luck and his team worked hard to bring like-minded individuals and organisations together to address these issues, driven by the belief that mentoring should be a way of life in Singapore.In particular, I remember Ser Luck telling me when I joined, what used to be known as the National Committee on Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation, to really pay attention to this area of mentoring; And I really think that his advice was very sound and it has inspired me; It has inspired so many who are in the Mentoring Alliance to continue to take this work forward.

6. So last July as Glenn has shared, 11 youth service organisations came together to form the alliance, with the shared purpose of uplifting the quality of mentoring programmes, sharing best practices within the community, and also strengthening Singapore’s overall mentoring capabilities. The alliance has since co-developed a common service framework that aligns their approaches to a set of shared standards in mentoring practices. And we believe that this will better equip volunteer mentors to guide their mentees.

7. These efforts have begun to bear fruit - many of the organisations in the alliance have launched new mentoring programmes. For instance, REACH Community Services recently started a programme that will enable youths in the Bukit Batok Community to gain marketplace exposure. This was done in collaboration with corporate partners like Air Products and Fullerton Hotel. The Architects of Life launched “Life Champions”, a mentoring programme targeted at Secondary 3 students. The Malay Youth Literary Association, also known as 4PM, is kick-starting their “Buddy” mentoring programme, targeted at Malay Muslim youths. The alliance’s overall efforts have played a key role in growing awareness of the mentoring movement in Singapore and I am sure that the movement will be bigger and stronger.

All of us have a part to play in sustaining a mentoring culture in Singapore

8. Beyond the programmes and structures, it is the commitment and passion of volunteers and mentors that are critical to sustaining this movement. All of us, as individuals and organisations, have a part to play in developing our next generation. We can each serve as role models, coaches or friends for our youths, accompanying them through their life journey, and inspiring them in many ways, big and small, to achieve their best. The benefits of mentoring to our youths can be long-lasting and life-changing. And it is our hope that one day, these youths can sustain the movement by convincing others to be a part of it.

9. The Mentoring Alliance has set a bold vision: “Every youth empowered through mentoring”. And to realise this vision, the Mentoring Alliance targets to recruit 1,000 volunteers who will collectively contribute 100,000 hours in mentoring – all within this year! I think this is a very worthy target and I am a firm believer that when we reach out to many people and convince them that this is something that is worth giving their time, their resources and their hearts to, actually all targets will be achievable. I hope that besides the professionals who are in youth service who are gathered here today, more Singaporeans will also step forward and join this meaningful cause.

10. At the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth as well as the National Youth Council, we will continue to work with the community to nurture our youths and help them achieve their full potential. Through the National Youth Fund, we are supporting organisations under the Mentoring Alliance to pilot mentoring programmes. This will equip and empower youths with pro-social skills and resilience.

11. In the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s work with youth-at-risk and youth offenders, mentoring is also one of the key components. Studies have shown the importance of a significant adult in steering a youth-at-risk or youth offender towards positive outcomes and away from crime and other negative influences. Under the Ministry’s Volunteer Probation Officer (VPO) Scheme, individual VPOs befriend probationers and help to guide them towards their future goals. In 2016, a group mentoring programme was developed based on Mr Tony LoRe’s ‘Youth Mentoring Connection’ framework. Titled ‘Connecting Points’, this programme aims to facilitate probationers’ self-discovery and increase their social capital. This group approach also helps enhance the effectiveness & sustainability of VPOs in mentoring the probationers.

12. This is an important aspect of the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism (NCPR)’s work. This Committee is the successor to the National Committee of Youth Guidance and Rehabilitation, that I mentioned earlier. I am also privileged to be involved in this committee. It oversees national efforts to prevent offending and re-offending. We want to collaborate with the community and volunteers to ensure that at-risk children and youths, and their families are well supported. Together, we believe that we can break cycles of offending and inter-generational criminality.


13. I have mentioned over the course of the speech, many stakeholders who are interested and who wish to support mentoring; And certainly last but not least, it leaves me to thank the members of the Mentoring Alliance for organising this Summit, bringing together so many partners, individuals as well as organisations who want to be a part of this mission and vision to make mentorship a way of life.

14. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to say that by being here, you have uplift our spirits and you have really strengthened our resolve to move forward with this vision.Your enthusiasm, your interest and by turning up, you have helped to make the event a big success. You have been exemplifying the spirit of SG Cares, a national movement to support Singaporeans in building a more caring and inclusive home for all. It is my hope that as we go forward, more giving of mentoring hours can be facilitated. I hope that we shape a culture where we also show appreciation and thank to all those who have mentored us in our life journeys, even if these are episodes of guidance or pieces of advice which may not have at that time known or labelled as mentoring. All of us I believed have benefitted, just as Glenn has shown us just now; and I think it is a culture of saying - you have reached out, you have made a connection with me, you have mentored me, you have helped me and I want to appreciate you for that, I think this is definitely a very important part of SG Cares which we all want to foster.

15. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Have a great day!


[1] The Mentoring Alliance consists of 11 organisations - 4PM, Architects of Life (AOL), Care Singapore (CARE), Lakeside Family Services (LFS), Metropolitan Young Men’s Christian Association Singapore (MYMCA Singapore), REACH Community Services, The Green Apple Project (TGAP), Youth Development Centre - The Salvation Army, Youth Guidance Outreach Services (YGOS), Trybe Limited, and Societus Limited.

[2] Insights from a 2014 report titled “The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring”. The report was commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership with support from AT&T, and written by Civic Enterprises in partnership with Hart Research.

Last Updated: 31 January 2019

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