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December 5, 2011

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City set to give help to eager volunteers

MORE city volunteer programs are being set up as growing numbers of Shanghai residents are eager to help others, authorities said yesterday.

According to the Shanghai Spiritual Civilization Office, the city has just over 1 million registered volunteers, but many can't find places due to a lack of programs.

The office added that volunteers also often encounter difficulties finding a program matching their skills and schedule.

Yesterday, the office said it has contacted non-governmental organizations, hoping they can develop more programs.

"NGOs can manage their own volunteers, which can encourage more people to take part," said Yan Jiawei, an official with the office.

Volunteers have expressed frustrations that their skills are not being utilized.

Zhu Nanchen, an English-major student, said she registered as a volunteer and hoped for work relevant to her degree, but found few opportunities except for huge events, such as the World Expo.

"Since the end of Expo, I haven't done any volunteering work," she said.

Yesterday, a "volunteer carnival" was held in the city to mark Volunteer Day, which falls today.

Volunteers offered a wide range of services, ranging from law consultations to helping seniors and repairing household appliances.

But officials said a one-day event is not enough, and in addition to working with NGOs, suggested online communities can be useful in finding projects.

"Some small chatting groups online carry out 'random acts of kindness,' for example, helping an elderly person at home," Yan said.

"We are trying to make such programs bigger, involving more volunteers.

These can be formalized and registered at our platforms."

The government itself is also trying to offer opportunities.

By the end of 2015, the city aims to have 500 service sites for volunteers - including museums, hospitals and parks offering opportunities.

Anyone, including expats, who are interested in being a volunteer can apply at


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