SINGAPORE – To ensure that disadvantaged children from low-income families are supported emotionally and have a role model they can look up to, a programme to recruit and train youth volunteers to befriend such children is set to be piloted.

The South East Community Development Council (CDC), which is behind the programme called “Lift me, Ah Kor/Ah Jie”, said it is still looking for youth volunteers and other partners to come on board.

The Straits Times understands no start date has been fixed for the programme yet.

Speaking at the annual South East District Conference on Wednesday (July 17), Dr Maliki Osman, who is mayor of the South East District, said this was in support of Uplift, an initiative by the Ministry of Education.

Short for Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce, Uplift is a inter-agency task force that aims to help children from disadvantaged homes level up.

It is headed by Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah, who previously said that the panel will also look into stepping up parent outreach and parenting programmes to empower less-privileged families.

South East CDC said it is planning to work with educational institutions within the South East District, as well as tap its existing pool of youth volunteers.

Youth volunteers will be given training in areas such as communication and motivational and life skills. They will also be supported with necessary resources.

They will then be paired with the identified students and meet them once a week – to read or go through homework together, for instance – with permission from the students’ parents or guardians.

South East CDC aims to reach out to students from 50 low-income families in the first year.

Dr Maliki, who is also Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said of the programme: “We hope to provide opportunities for our youth to mentor these young students and identify issues faced by these students early so that help can be rendered where necessary.”

“We must ensure that every child has access to the necessary resources and support to nurture him or her to fulfil his or her potential to the fullest,” he added.