JONATHAN KUEK

Jonathan founded Matchsticks of IMH, whose volunteers engage 150+ residents of the Institute of Mental Health weekly in various activities such as arts and crafts, sports, board and card games, singing, outings, and/or parties, bridging the gap between them and the world outside the hospital.

The forging of bonds between volunteer and resident benefits both parties as they experience the intrinsic satisfaction derived from forming close social relationships, which also serves to strengthen psychological well-being.

Matchsticks has also hosted various external groups which approach IMH for standalone volunteering sessions. These include junior colleges, universities, and corporate entities. During such events, leaders from the group would oversee these external volunteers, sharing tips with them on how to better interact with the residents and personal anecdotes of their time volunteering. These events allow for external volunteers to better understand what working with people with a mental illness feels like based on others’ experiences and form their own impressions through working with the residents.

When Jonathan first started volunteering at IMH in 2014, while there were a few volunteer groups around, he found that none really catered to or were aligned with how he viewed volunteerism and the community of volunteers he envisioned the hospital could one day have. Fast forward 6 years, they are much closer to the goal of creating an empowering and values-based volunteering culture, but their work is not done yet.

Additionally, mental health wasn't discussed as frequently back then and people were not as keen on such issues as they are today and hence, Jonathan recognized that using their volunteer experiences, they could generate more meaningful conversations around what people with mental health conditions were like.

Jonathan champions having a strong conviction for sticking by your values. Nothing is more powerful than the ability to believe in yourself and the work that you do, especially when everyone else around is you following a more mainstream narrative. Being different means that you are going to face more challenges because in rejecting the status quo, especially in a country like Singapore, you will be ruffling the feathers of established organizations and people who have been around for longer.

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Singapore 059817

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