Voluntary work in Hong Kong

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Not surprisingly, most voluntary work in Hong Kong needs you to speak Chinese. Still, if you have some free time and want to volunteer there are options for English-speakers. I'll describe one of them, a place I spent some time at last year. Then I'll also list some other groups that are looking for volunteers.

Crossroads

Last year I spent some time helping at Crossroads. You might have heard of them already, as they appear in the local press from time to time. Their goal is simple - take things people no longer need, and deliver them to people that will find them useful.

You probably have an image of old clothes donations. It's true they do process a lot of clothes, but they deal with much more besides. Apart from personal donations, many organisations offer items that are still in good condition, but are no longer needed. For example, it could be a local hospital that has changed its logo, and so has all the bed linen with the previous logo that they no longer need. Or an office that is expanding rapidly, and has an 'old' photocopier that is only two years old, but has recently been replaced by a newer, larger model. Or a buying office for a US company that receives several hundred clothing samples each year from Chinese factories, etc.

The recipients are a mix of local and overseas charities. Local charities often visit to collect furniture, e.g. for use in their hostels and other facilities around Hong Kong. Overseas deliveries are much larger, typically filling a 40-foot shipping container, which is sent off to the organisation that needs it. They are a sight to behold, as they are packed as full as you can imagine, with as many of the items requested as possible.

Crossroads need volunteers. There is a lot of manual sorting and checking work to be done, which anyone can help with. People with specialised skills are also welcome, whether fixing items that have been received, performing maintenance on the facilities, data entry, admin, computer programming, marketing, etc. If you are willing to work, they'll find something for you to do!

The downside? It isn't difficult to get to, but the journey takes a while - say an hour each way from Hong Kong island. It is near Hong Kong Gold Coast, not far from Tuen Mun, and is on several bus routes. Also the work can seem monotonous, though if you keep the end result in mind, it's quite amazing what you are enabling.

On the plus side you'll certainly get to meet an intersting mix of people, as the volunteers come from all around the world. Some live onsite, working there full time. Others work several days each week. Many of these are from Africa, so expect to hear a lot of French. The Mormons send teams there on a regular basis, and local international schools also have groups helping there in many weeks. You also get a free lunch each day. If you like to try different food, you'll really enjoy lunchtime, as they have some great cooks.

You (and that might be you personally, or the organisation you represent) can help by volunteering:
- Your stuff. What do you throw out that is in good condition, and could be used by someone else? It does need to be in reasonable condition. If you'd be embarrassed to give it to a friend to use, it's probably not appropriate. But if you think it could be useful, please contact them.
- Your time. The more people they have, the more stuff they can process.
- Your money. Money pays for the shipping. Every dollar donated enables many more dollars worth of stuff to reach the people that need it.

Their website has much more information about all these points and much more besides. If you are ready to volunteer, fill in this form, and they'll be in touch with you shortly.

Other volunteer opportunities

If Crossroads doesn't fit your interests, here are some other options:

  • Try Ho-Sum, a local website that displays a list of upcoming activities that need volunteers. That's where I found Crossroads, and they have many other opportunities available (when I checked today there were 38 on the English-language page, and 76 on the Chinese-language page).
  • The government also has a website that performs a similar function. It would make more sense if the two sites combined into one, but until that happens you might want to check this one too.
  • Geoexpat list several more, including Community Advice Bureau, Riding for the Disabled Association, Oxfam Hong Kong, Rotary Clubs, Lions International, and Christina Noble Children’s Foundation.
  • Amcham's 'Lving in Hong Kong' book lists several more that need English-speaking volunteers. PDF copies of the book's chapters are available online - visit this page and search for 'volunteer', then click on the chapter heading to download. When I looked it was Chapter 7.
  • Finally, if you are a HK Magazine reader, they sometimes have requests for help in the 'Bulletin Board' section.

What have I missed? If there are any local volunteer organisations you'd like to recommend, we'd love to hear a bit about what they do, and what help they need.

Regards, MrB

Comments

Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR)

At HKDR's Pokfulam Kennels there are usually around 50 dogs waiting for adoption at any one time. HKDR is always looking for anyone who is willing to help with kennel cleaning, feeding, dog walking, grooming and socialising. You don't need experience, just a love of dogs and a willingness to get your hands (and clothes) dirty.

The kennel is open daily and there are two shifts daily: AM 9am-1pm or PM 4-7pm. Kennel is located on Victoria Road passing Wah Fu Estate, and it's 20 mins walk to Cyberport.

www.hongkongdogrescue.com

Volunteer opportunities

This week's HK Magazine lists several voluntary organisations in their Bulletin Board section:

  • English-in-action
    Volunteer native English speakers needed to meet with non-native speakers to practice English in a relaxed atmosphere.
    Contact Venni Tam. 2186-8449 or www.esuhk.org
     
  • Reading for the Blind
    the HK Society for the Blind is looking for colunteers to reas books and magazines aloud so they can record it for the blind.
    Centralised Braille Production Centre, 248 Nam Cheong St, Sham Shui Po, 2778-8332 ext 313.
     
  • Riding for the disabled
    Seeks volunteers to lead classes for disabled children at Pok Fu Lam Riding School.
    Details: www.rda.org.hk or call 2875-7711
     
  • Take Care of Animals
    Volunter to be a caretaker for the HK Reptile and Amphibian Society. The HKRAS is also seeking volunteer coordinators, graphic designers, web designers and clerical positions.
    PO Box 584, Sha Tin Central, 9743-2011.
    Sign up at www.hkras.org

Crossroads

Although MrB has previously mentioned Crossroads, I'd never been there myself until yesterday. I visited as part of a church group, and heard a presentation/had a guided tour from one of the permanent staff.

It's really a remarkable operation, and I can't recommend highly enough going out and having a look yourself. They also run a colorful, interesting shop and a cafe, so if you do visit it won't seem as if you're just being nosy!

More opportunities for voluntary work

The YWCA has a good list of groups that need English-speaking volunteers.

A couple more suggestions

from gweipo:

The australian association is very active as well:

http://www.ozhongkong.com/index.php?pagename=Society%20for%20the%20Relief%20of%20Disabled%20Child

As is the Helena May club:

http://www.helenamay.com/index.html

Expat Support

I was wondering if there is any kind of support group for expats who have become unemployed or homeless?

re: Expat Support

No, I haven't come across that. I think the assumption is that an expat is here on a contract, and the 'going home after the job' part is covered by that. You could try calling the Citizens Advice Bureau to see if they know of anything along those lines.

China Coast Community is the closest organisation I could think of:

China Coast Community is a unique Care and Attention Home in Hong Kong. It provides residential care for English speaking elderly persons regardless of their financial circumstances. They will have spent a significant period of their lives in Hong Kong or the Far East.

Give a day, get a Disney day

If you're doing regular volunteer work, Disney will give you a free ticket to HK Disneyland. Details here.