Volunteering to help foreign workers in Singapore
Image credit: Migrant Workers’ Centre
We Singaporeans are blessed to live in a first-world country with world-class infrastructure and shiny skyscrapers. But while living in our bubble of privilege, we sometimes fail to notice the migrant workers who toil behind the scenes to build the facilities that we enjoy today.
Most of them choose to work here because of the job prospects that allow them to better support their families back home, but are constantly at the receiving end of unfair employment practices and suffer under extremely harsh working conditions.
To help this group of oft-marginalised people, there are many charities and non-profit organisations that offer both ad-hoc and regular volunteering opportunities. From packing food to teaching English classes, there’s lots you can do to help improve the lives of migrant workers here in Singapore.
P.S.: Our colleague spent 2 days in the life of a migrant worker in Singapore, and you can read about his experience here.
1. Transient Workers Count Too - ad-hoc roles available
Image credit: @hdteees
Those who have no idea where to start can check out the diverse volunteering opportunities offered at Transient Workers Count Too. This one of the biggest NGOs in Singapore and provides over 10 roles that you can help out in - from admin to communications to packing food for workers.
While certain roles like communications, public outreach and administration require a commitment to specific days, there are other ad-hoc positions that allow you to work from home such as research or media-related roles.
This organisation helps migrant workers by subsiding their rent, providing them with food and protection services when they’re treated unfairly by employers. In addition, they also help with subsidies for medical services with their Care Fund Projects, along with helping them top up their EZ-Link card and accompanying them to medical appointments.
Address: 5001 Beach Road, #09-86, Golden Mile Complex, Singapore 199588
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 9AM-6PM | Closed on Sat and Sun
Telephone: 6247 7001
2. Willing Hearts Singapore - soup kitchen
Image credit: Willing Hearts
No particular skills are required at Willing Hearts, all they’re looking for is, well, a willing heart. This organisation runs a soup kitchen that cooks and distributes food to the needy all around Singapore. This service is carried out 365 days a year and the people you’ll be serving include the elderly, migrant workers, children from single parent families and low-income households.
Volunteers are most needed in the kitchen, where doors open from 5AM. You can choose your shift between 3 time slots any time from 5AM-4PM. But the slots that require the most help are those that start early in the morning to noon. Find out more here.
Spots fill up quickly but you can register and reserve yours in advance here. There are 4 roles altogether and you’ll be shifted constantly, depending on which station needs manpower. You’ll be involved in preparing ingredients, packing lunch boxes, cleaning and washing used utensils, and helping out in other kitchen favours.
Address: 11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51, Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore 409074
Opening hours: Daily: 5.30AM-3.30PM
Telephone: 6476 5822
3. Women of Shakti - empowerment for female South Asian domestic workers in SG
Some of their young volunteers
Image credit: Women of Shakti
Women of Shakti: South Asian Domestic Workers in Singapore empowers female domestic workers from India and Sri Lanka by providing them with various opportunities like English literary classes, storytelling and dance workshops, and poetry recitals. Many of these ladies have suffered poverty or have been past victims of domestic abuse.
Receiving prizes at the Migrant Worker Poetry Competition
Image credit: Women of Shakti
They’re constantly on the lookout for female volunteers to join their team so if you’ve got experience in sewing, conducting scientific research, legal aid and translating languages, you can send them an email here.
4. Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME) - befriending programmes
Image credit: HOME
Working in Singapore under harsh conditions, far away from their loved ones, often leaves migrant workers feeling lonely and depressed. To brighten up their day and remind them that they’re not alone, HOME is on the lookout for volunteers to help with befriending work.
This NGO relies largely on volunteers to organise outreach programs, bonding activities, as well as fundraising events for this underserved group of workers. Don’t worry if you have no experience because the company trains you in the field you wish to specialise in. Individuals who can commit to a minimum period of 6 months are preferred.
Aside from reaching out to foreigners, the organisation also offers courses such as cooking, English, computer literacy, cosmetology and financial management to help workers diversify their skill sets.
Telephone: 6741 1725
5. HealthServe - translators and doctors wanted
Bonding sessions are regularly organised too
Image credit: Enrique Imran
HealthServe is an NGO that provides migrant workers with free medical consultations, counselling services, and social assistance such as free meals and transport services.
They also organise events like outings to Sentosa and Father’s Day celebrations to foster deeper friendships between workers and to help them relax. Weekly English and computer literacy classes are also provided.
The team consists of a small and dedicated number of full-time staff as well as other volunteers from the medical industry. Those who wish to volunteer with them can take on positions like photographers and videographers, Bengali translators or doctors.
Address: 1 Lorong 23 Geylang, #01-07, Building 4, Singapore 388352
Opening hours: Tue-Wed: 7-9PM | Sat: 3PM-5PM | Closed on Sun, Mon, Thurs and Fri
Telephone: 6743 9774
6. Migrant Workers Centre - to welcome first-time migrant workers to SG
Image credit: Migrant Workers’ Centre
Working overseas can be a daunting experience, and Migrant Workers Centre helps out with their Welcoming First Time Migrant Workers To Singapore program. Under this initiative, you’ll be involved with interacting with new migrant workers, putting together and distributing welcome packs to them, and directing any questions they may have to the staff on site.
In addition to that, the organisation also provides shelter and food for a temporary period at Tuas View Dormitory. Those looking to make a donation can do so online here.
Address: 579 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218193
Opening hours: Tue-Fri: 9AM-7PM | Sat-Sun: 11AM-3PM | Closed on Mon
Telephone: 6536 2692
7 Aidha - provides financial education to domestic workers
Image credit: aidha
Aidha is a non-profit learning institution that focuses on helping domestic workers and low-income Singaporean women achieve financial independence with various courses in financial education, wealth creation and entrepreneurship.
Volunteers can choose to help out on an ad-hoc basis or commit to specific dates, which are constantly being updated so keep your eyes peeled to their volunteer page for updates. The roles you can look forward to as a volunteer include a mentoring in teaching courses, photo/video editing for events, or providing the office team with IT support. Click here to register.
Those who are interested in participating in more than one area can take up multiple roles too, just tick off the categories that interest you in the volunteer form.
Address: 748A North Bridge Road, Singapore 198716
Opening hours: Sun, Mon-Fri: 9.30AM-5PM | Closed on Sat
Telephone: 6341 5287
8. Philippine Bayanihan Society Singapore (PBSS) - classes for helpers to develop skill sets
Every year, PBSS conducts marathons for Filipino foreign workers to bond
Image credit: PBSS
Out of all the domestic workers in Singapore, a good group of them come from the Philippines and to help these individuals expand their skill sets further, PBSS offers numerous classes from martial arts to dressmaking activities. To make it convenient for helpers, these classes are conducted on Sundays at the Bayanihan Centre.
Those who wish to be involved can help out in counselling, organising fund-raising activities, creating classes to impart skills and helping out with admin work. You can sign up here.
Address: 43 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118503
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs: 9AM-5PM | Closed on Fri & Sat
Telephone: 6474 3700
9. ACMI - counselling and community outreach
Image credit: ACMI Singapore
At the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI), a Catholic-based non-profit organisation, migrant workers are cared for in four main aspects:
- Case management, where they’ll be given counselling and assistance in legal, education and shelter-related matters
- Skill development, where various language and caregiving courses are taught
- Community outreach, where activities are organised to foster a closer bond between locals and foreigners
- Formation, where they’ll learn more about Catholic values.
Volunteers looking to serve in these areas can sign-up here. You’ll be asked to indicate your interests and select the area(s) you’re most keen on. Some specific roles include counsellors, photographers, videographers and PR/communications positions. You can choose to volunteer on an ad-hoc basis.
Address:#04-01, Agape Village, Singapore 319264
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8.30AM-5.30PM | Sun: 10AM-4.30PM | Closed on Sat
Telephone: 6801 7400
10. Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) - English language, computer, and culinary classes
Image credit: FAST
FAST is a MOM-supported charity which provides a large range of classes at pocket-friendly prices for migrant workers in Singapore. These include basic English, computer, financial education and culinary classes.
They’ve also created a Befrienders Service that’s run entirely by volunteers to help foreign domestic workers socialise through group activities. By volunteering, you’ll be helping out with planning, organising and participating in various workshops and events. To help out in more than one aspect, you can contact them here.
Address: 2985 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-1B, Singapore 159457
Opening hours: Sun-Fri: 9.30AM-6.30PM | Closed on Sat
Telephone: 6509 1535
Organisations that help migrant workers in Singapore
Helping the less fortunate goes beyond just making a monetary donation. All it takes is a little time off our busy schedules to support these migrant workers, who might have a harder time adjusting to working in Singapore. Whether you’re volunteering to help pack food or conduct lessons, you’re playing a direct role in spreading kindness and helping to improve the lives of others.
Check out these articles if you’re interested in other volunteering opportunities: