Project HomeWorks reimagined: Socially-distanced volunteering
Updated: Oct 23
Going in the new decade at the start of 2020, no one expected that our usual large-scale Project HomeWorks session with over 30 volunteers in January was going to be the first and last one for a good half of the year.
Just as COVID-19 forced the world to reimagine how we live and work, Habitat Singapore had to make adjustments to our volunteering programme for the safety of our vulnerable homeowners and volunteers.
After 2 months of fine-tuning the new procedures, Project HomeWorks was finally ready to welcome back corporate volunteer teams as well as volunteers from the public earlier this month.
On October 9, 35 volunteers from 3M Singapore became the first corporate team to join us for Project HomeWorks since the pandemic with our updated safety protocols and measures. Here's what you too can expect if you join us as a volunteer for future sessions.
1. Scattered service locations and staggered reporting times.
Our old system of accommodating large groups in one neighbourhood is no longer feasible with safe-distancing restrictions.
Volunteers will could now be spread across as many as 2-3 different locations to avoid any cross-contact between volunteer teams. For 3M Singapore, volunteers were spread out across Jalan Bukit Merah, Lengkok Bahru and Redhill.
In their case where 5 teams were heading to the same location, reporting times were also staggered and spread out across 8.30am to 9.30am.
3M volunteers split into their respective teams across different reporting locations.
2. No cross-interaction between teams and volunteers.
Staggered reporting locations and timings were designed to avoid all potential cross-interactions between teams. Volunteers are required to stay with their assigned teams throughout the entire session, including media personnel like photographers and videographers.
Working together with one team throughout the entire session also has its perks. For 3M volunteer Junn Lim, it gave her chance to discover her colleagues' "true grit".
3. Compulsory temperature screening, health and travel declarations
When volunteers report to their briefing location, everyone will be required to take their temperature and fill up our health and travel declaration form for contact tracing purposes.
Volunteers with temperatures above 37.5 degrees, displaying flu or cough symptoms, or placed on or in contact with people on Stay-Home Notice will not be allowed to join the session.
3M volunteer teams serving 7 different houses across Jalan Bukit Merah, Lengkok Bahru and Redhill
4. Smaller volunteer teams and shorter sessions.
Where we used to have team sizes of 7-10 volunteers, team sizes will be restricted to a maximum of 5 people per team. Concurrently, the duration of each session will also be halved and kept at 3.5 hours in accordance with government guidelines. Our staff and HomeWorks Champions on site will be wrapping up sessions by 1pm or 1.30pm at the latest.
We understand the eagerness of volunteers to complete all the work needed for each house during their session. We'd like to assure all volunteers that our Project HomeWorks staff have already taken into account manpower and time restrictions. The scope of work required for each house will be divided across your session and as many follow-up sessions needed to fully rehabilitate the house.
For 3M volunteer Kevin McGuigan, the few hours he spent with Project HomeWorks was enough to feel like he accomplished something with his team.
"Our ability to have a positive impact on the community is not as difficult as some may think. My four hour commitment offered a significant return on investment. I walked away from the experience feeling like I truly made an impact, (and) I can still see our (homeowner) smiling as she examined her refurbished flat," he shared.
5. Masks to be worn at all times
We also ask that volunteers keep their masks on at all times during the clean-up session. Most of our homeowners are elderly with pre-existing conditions and keeping your masks on will help to keep them safe.
It can be uncomfortably hot during a session, and even more so while wearing a mask. We encourage everyone to step out for a breather or water break as often as you need to.
At the end of every Project HomeWorks session, volunteers will be bringing each and every homeowner one step closer to a cleaner and healthier home. Together, we can end the year on a more positive note by bringing decent homes to vulnerable Singaporeans - one house at a time.
Before and after of a house served by 3M volunteers
For members of the public interested to join a Project HomeWorks as an individual volunteer, subscribe to our mailing list to receive monthly updates of upcoming sessions: www.habitat.org.sg/new-subscribers
Organisations interested in a group or corporate volunteering session can get in touch us to enquire on available dates at firstname.lastname@example.org.