Investing in impact: DBS Bank's volunteers empowering PWIDs
In 2017, DBS Bank’s People of Purpose volunteers from the bank’s Technology & Operations Consumer Banking Operations (T&O CBO) team assembled a committee to organise initiatives and activities for MINDS clients, with the aim of raising awareness on the challenges faced by the Persons with Intellectual Disability (PWIDs) and promoting a more inclusive society.
To date, more than 100 employees from DBS’ T&O CBO team have participated in various programmes with MINDS, contributing over 400 hours of volunteering. Along with regular befriending sessions and projects like craft activities to engage with, the DBS volunteers invested their time and resources in impactful initiatives, such as supporting MINDS students earn the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) certifications to enhance their employability after they graduate.
Levelling up students’ employability
A vital component in Special Education (SPED) schools is preparing students for life after graduation. Teachers at MINDS Fernvale Gardens School (FGS) were exploring various courses in the market to develop their students’ soft skills and prepare them for future employment.
Understanding the intention to enhance the employability of students with special needs, the team of DBS volunteers connected FGS with the Singapore Institute of Retails Studies (SIRS) and a local pastry chain. Working with SIRS, FGS teachers customised a suitable WSQ Service Leadership course for the students. Using a retail outlet of the local pastry chain as a training setting, students learned to serve and manage customers, sell products, manage payments and other customer service skills. After completing the 15-hour training modules conducted by SIRS, students sat for an assessment to complete their course.
To offer the students moral support and reinforce the students’ learning, the DBS volunteers held 1-on-1 and group coaching sessions to prepare students for their tests.
With the volunteers’ support and the students’ hard work, 11 students passed the course. 2 of them also went on to secure jobs with a local F&B chain.
Ms Lim Ping Lian, Senior Vice President at DBS Bank, said, “Through our continuous interactions with persons with intellectual disabilities over the past five years, we have found that they may experience a lack of opportunities to truly integrate in society and lead purposeful lives. That calls for the concerted efforts among the public and private sectors, as well as individuals, to support and enable them with skills so that they can secure job opportunities, as well as to become self-sufficient. Together with our fellow colleagues and community partners like MINDS, we hope to create even greater positive impact over the long run.”
Spreading cheer all year round
Regular befriending and engagement sessions go a long way in building each PWID’s confidence and social skills, while offering volunteers platforms to develop a more nuanced understanding of PWIDs’ abilities and struggles.
Through different seasons each year, DBS CBO volunteers take turns to organise craft activities and festive celebrations for various groups across MINDS schools and centres. From making lanterns for Chinese New Year to photo frames for Mothers’ Day, the DBS team runs 1-2 hour-long sessions for up to 30 MINDS clients each time. Volunteers also organise trips to the cinema, breaking the monotony of daily routines. Like many of us in our schooling days, these outings bring a great deal of excitement and joy to MINDS clients and students as they explore new environments and experiences.
Around festive seasons such as Christmas and the New Year, DBS CBO volunteers also put together special celebrations. For instance, they facilitated an activity for a record 400 clients to design greeting cards and pen down their resolutions for the new year. Clients were then invited to share what they had written – a heart-warming opportunity for PWIDs to voice their thoughts, hopes and dreams.
Ms Dawn Wang, one of the DBS volunteers and programme organisers said, “I learn so much from the MINDS clients whenever they share their experiences with us. I’m thankful for this opportunity to volunteer with MINDS at my workplace.”
As MINDS celebrates its 60th anniversary, we extend our thanks to our corporate partners and volunteers who have been instrumental in our mission of enhancing the quality of life and building an inclusive society for PWIDs and their families.
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