On behalf of the Agency for Volunteer Service (AVS), I would like to respond to the letter by Patsy Leung ('Encourage young people to volunteer', May 31). AVS (www.avs.org.hk ) believes volunteerism is a driving force for building a civil society and a caring community.
We agree with Ms Leung that it is a way to facilitate positive changes in society and that more effort should be put into developing volunteerism. AVS is dedicated to promoting it and developing a partnership with many sectors of the community in this regard. We provide a platform for citizens from all walks of life to volunteer: we offer diversified service opportunities, volunteer referrals and various types of training.
According to research we conducted with the University of Hong Kong in 2009, more Hong Kong citizens are willing to devote themselves to volunteer service, especially young professionals with higher social status. In comparison with similar research carried out in 2001, the study found that the participation rate in organised volunteering rose from 22.4 per cent to 35.9 per cent (of respondents in the public survey).
Of those who volunteered, there had been a substantial increase in hours per year, rising from 34.8 hours in 2001 to 87.4 in 2009. Also, the total number of volunteer hours doubled, reaching 87 million in 2009. Our study revealed that volunteers are younger, better educated than the average population and have a higher income than the median.
AVS has stepped up its efforts in volunteer promotion. Putting youth in focus, we have, for example, had a Youth Volunteer Development Scheme since 2009 to train and organise secondary school students to volunteer, stressing the attributes of confidence, caring, commitment and courage.
A 'Give a Day, Get a Disney Day' Volunteer Scheme was launched in 2010. Volunteers performing eight hours of service get a day at Hong Kong Disneyland through the recommendation of the service organisations. This year, a 'Best 10 Youth Projects' selection was implemented to recognise innovative volunteer projects organised by young people.
We agree with Ms Leung that volunteering needs increased publicity. As a non-profit organisation under severe resource constraints, we will continue to try our best to take every opportunity to actively boost volunteerism. We thank Ms Leung for her valuable comments.
Flora Chung, chief executive officer, Agency for Volunteer Service