Someone then responded that this wouldn't be possible in Singapore because we aren't a welfare state - therefore there isn't much social work to be done.
This reply startled me. I don't know whether the person is arguing for the sake of arguing, or just truly unaware of what social work means.
Social work doesn't disappear in non-welfare states. If anything, there is a greater need for social work in non-welfare states, because the state takes on much less responsibility in looking after its disadvantaged citizens. In other words, more volunteers are needed.
Social work also comes in a wide variety of different forms. Here's one example from the Straits Times today:
ST Jan 4, 2007
Voluntary body makes sure kids go to school
Singapore Children's Society monitors pupils who skip class
By Liaw Wy-Cin & Yap Su-Yin
TEACHERS were not the only ones taking students' attendance on the first day of school yesterday. The Singapore Children's Society was doing the same.
Social workers from the voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) had been monitoring 11 children who had problems attending school.
Nine were in their classes, but two were not in their schools yesterday.
According to the society, one of the two - a Primary 5 pupil - did not have enough pocket money for school. The other was a Primary 4 pupil whose father takes her to school only if he is awake. Otherwise, she remains at home.
But the VWO has got in touch with the two girls and they are expected to be back in school today.
Five of the 11 children had failed to register for Primary 1 last year, before the Singapore Children's Society stepped in to help.
The other four, as well as the two who were absent yesterday, were pupils without regular and sustained attendance in school.
The society, which was set up in 1952, is the only agency tasked with helping the Ministry of Education to see that all children of school-going age go to school, since a compulsory education act was implemented in 2003.
For example, if you are a doctor, you could specify that you want to volunteer in the "Health & Medical" sector; that you want to help "Sick/Needy" or "Elderly", and that you want to provide "Medical Services". The system will then attempt to match you with the appropriate organisation and vacancy.
Many different types of skills are in demand, for volunteer work. Activity areas include "Admin Services", "Disaster Relief", "Tutoring & Coaching", "Green Efforts", "Befriending / Counselling", "Information Technology", "Marketing/Publicity", just to name a few.
I volunteer in my own way. Last year on my old blog, I regularly provided publicity for various public-awareness, fundraising & charitable events. I intend to continue with this, with greater focus, this year. See, it doesn't cost me that much time or effort, but more than 20,000 unique visitors per month, it must be doing some good.
So you are organising a charitable event and would like some publicity, please send me an email. Details on my sidebar.