The Methodist Girls’ School student is just one out of more than 5,000 students that SHINE Children and Youth Services (SHINE), a registered charity and a member of the National Council of Social Service, helps each year.
Since its founding in 1976, the organisation has been empowering children, youth, and their families in Singapore. The organisation has remained committed to enabling them to maximise their potential, in areas such as school performances and helping their communities. SHINE is on a mission to build young lives and enhance their resilience to face life’s challenges, offering them hope for their future.
SHINE serves children and youths from all walks of life, from students in primary to secondary schools, which means they encounter a variety of social and family issues. To keep up with the increasing caseloads, SHINE brings together over 140 partners, including schools, other social organisations and businesses, to support and empower their staff to meet the needs of the children.
Here are four main ways the spirit of partnership has helped SHINE staff and its beneficiaries:
1. Use different skills to help solve different issues
SHINE deals with a wide range of issues among its beneficiaries, from mental health issues, interventions to help at-risk youths, and students that need more educational support.
Partnerships have given SHINE the necessary resources and expertise to meet different needs . For instance, it partners with big companies, such as banks, to tap on a wider pool of ideas and creativity to help beneficiaries through activities like fundraising.
By working with schools, SHINE has better access to teachers, who have an intrinsic understanding of challenges students in need face as they interact with them on a regular basis. Through this partnership, SHINE can help students inside and outside of school, by leaning on teachers to help bridge learning gaps in classes, while SHINE’s social workers can focus on managing their personal or family issues.
SHINE’s combined effort with schools has benefited individuals like secondary school student Tina. She and her mother were beneficiaries of SHINE, which refurbished their home and provided them with a bed and study space. They also received food support during the pandemic, including food delivered directly to their home daily. As she progressed through primary school, Tina continued to receive help from SHINE staff. She did well enough in her Primacy School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to land a spot in the school of her choice.
2. Enabling early interventions to nip problems in the bud
At SHINE, we strongly believe that prevention is better than cure. Our social workers are involved in upstream activities, which means involving ourselves early in a child’s or youth’s life to manage problems as they are emerging to prevent them from escalating into more serious issues.
With more manpower and resources through tapping into partnerships, SHINE’s social workers have more time and mind space to identify and work on issues, such as slipping grades and truancy, among children and youth early. For example, SHINE partners with neighbourhood police posts to encourage youths to serve the community through the Youth Community Outreach Patrol (COP) programme. By focusing on leadership development, Youth COP fosters youth crime-prevention leaders, a proven method to reduce juvenile delinquency among youth. As part of Youth COP, youths join policemen on patrols, exposing them to different members of the community to understand their needs and build positive connections for their personal development. The programme also encourages youths to create their own crime prevention projects and initiatives on social media or in schools.
3. Overcoming lack of manpower
One of the biggest challenges in the non-profit sector is the lack of manpower. SHINE’s staff have to handle increasing caseloads and operational tasks across its various centres.
Through partnerships and volunteers, SHINE can help ensure that they keep their centres running and rolling out new initiatives that positively impact its beneficiaries. One example of a new initiative is Nothing is Impossible, launched in 2021. It is a platform that encourages different members of society, from yoga instructors to Members of Parliament, to create fundraising campaigns. Through these campaigns, fundraisers can showcase their talents to raise money for children and youths. Fundraisers to date have included Tan Chuan Jin, Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore, and Dawn Sim, a yoga instructor. To gain the attention of the public to raise money for SHINE, Mr. Tan displayed his photography skills while Dawn demonstrated yoga poses through videos.
4. Maximising the impact of donations
For non-profit organisations like SHINE, donations are key to ensuring that children and youths get what they need, and that staff have adequate equipment to perform their jobs. However, donations from the public can be unorganised, resulting in unwanted or excessive items which leads to wastage. By partnering with organisations like Amazon Singapore, SHINE can ensure that each donation is purposeful.
With the Amazon x Shop for Good initiative, SHINE can create a wish list of items from children to ask members of the public to buy those items and get them delivered to its facilities island wide. Amazon x Shop for Good also helps with logistical challenges. With Amazon Singapore’s established network of delivery partners, infrastructure, and routes, SHINE can enjoy the peace of mind that donations will reach the children on time. Such initiatives provide an easy way of connecting donors to SHINE while ensuring that the children receive donated items they really need. Since joining Amazon x Shop for Good, SHINE also saw an increase in the number of in-kind donations.
Shining a light on the future of children and youths
SHINE’s partnerships have created positive outcomes for its children and families. In 2021 alone, SHINE helped over 5,000 children and youths and transformed the lives of more than 1,900 families. By working with community partners and volunteers, SHINE plans to continue making an impact among their beneficiaries. With organisations like Amazon Singapore on board taking care of donations, SHINE is confident that it can continue fulfilling its mission of enabling children and youth to maximise their potential and guide them to a brighter future.