The Role of a Volunteer

Volunteering is a personal commitment to help the less fortunate in our society. This commitment means a sacrifice of time and energy.

In doing volunteer work, we begin to appreciate what we have, whether in terms of our physical or material well-being. We also learn that it is our responsibility to live and contribute to our fullest potential. Being a volunteer, you may share your valuable experience with your family and friends so that they understand more about the less fortunate ones in this world.

Last but not least, be a volunteer for your own reasons and enjoy every bit of it.

1.     What are the characteristics of a responsible volunteer?

A responsible volunteer is one who :

  • is able to set his own objectives in voluntary work and priorities in life
  • knows the amount of time he can realistically commit himself to do voluntary work
  • takes on only the number of duties that he can manage effectively to prevent "burning out"
  • plans and carries out the group programmes with full commitment
  • provides regular feedback and works as a team
  • informs his fellow volunteers/group leader in advance when he would be absent and ensures that the group programme would carry on smoothly during his absence

2.     What are some dos and don'ts for volunteering?


  • Provide trainees with a positive model of appropriate behaviour and skills
  • Be willing to interact with trainees
  • Be committed
  • Be regular and punctual for weekly activities


  • Don't encourage a frustrated trainee to relieve stress through pointless activities
  • Don't share plates, forks, spoons and cups with trainees as they have lower body resistance and are prone to illnesses
  • Don't assume that a trainee has understood your oral directions or instructions just because he did not ask any questions 

3.     What are some tips and pointers on working on PWIDs?

  • Think of what you want them to learn before you give any command. Directions must be clear and extremely simple.
  • Attract his attention by calling their names and establishing eye contact.
  • Provide tasks within their abilities.
  • Break down the task into simple steps.
  • Show rather than tell them how to do a task.
  • Work on one thing at a time.
  • Try to have each task completed as finishing the job keeps interest, gives pride and creates good work habits.
  • Keep supervising them while allowing them to do as much as possible for themselves
  • Give positive reinforcers e.g. a praise on a tap on the shoulder when a task is done well or a good attempt has been made.
  • Be very patient because they may not readily carry over ideas from one situation to another, thus we usually have to treat each situation individually
  • Be firm to them. Do not let them manipulate you.
  • Have faith in them regardless of their capabilities.