District Highlights 2021-22
STRENGTHENING URBAN-RURAL COLLABORATION TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ELDERS LIVING IN RURAL AREAS
Many elders live in the rural areas of Yuen Long. Their caring needs are uniquely different from those of their counterparts living in urban areas. In view of this, the Yuen Long District Social Welfare Office (District Social Welfare Office) joined hands with six Rural Committees and NGOs providing community care and support services for the elderly in Yuen Long to design comprehensive and appropriate services for needy elders living in rural areas through regular collaboration meetings. These services included arranging for temporary storage of service equipment and supplies for elders (e.g. wheelchairs) at village offices, training volunteers in the villages, and co-ordinating eateries in the villages to provide meals and other necessary assistance for service users under special circumstances, etc. Support Teams for the Elderly (STE) attached to District Elderly Community Centres held groups activities in rural areas regularly to introduce and promote relevant services to elders in the villages. In addition, STE volunteers visited elders in the villages from time to time during the pandemic, teaching them how to use their smart phones to get the latest news and stay in touch with others, and thus strengthening their support network. It is hoped that urban-rural collaboration can forge greater synergy to help responding more flexibly, quickly and effectively to the needs of elders living in rural areas and supporting their ageing in place.
CULTIVATING A CARER-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY TRHOUGH MULTILATERAL COLLABORATION
The Working Group on Support for Carers in Yuen Long District, set up by the District Social Welfare Office together with 10 welfare service units from different sectors, carried out the “Gorgeous “Yuen” Care Project” to support carers in the community. 12 respite activities called “Breathing Space for Carers” were held under the project to give carers time and space to relax and take a breather from all the stress. A total of 186 carers participated in the activities. In addition, 26 social enterprises and retail shops were enlisted to join the “Carer-Friendly Store Scheme” by issuing 1 000 concession cards to carers to provide them with special offers on purchases and services. With funding support from the Hong Kong Love and Care Charity Foundation Limited, a “Thanksgiving Event” was held to recognise the efforts expended by carers, and commend the Carer-Friendly Stores for the support they gave. Over 200 people participated in the event, which helped enhance public awareness of the needs of underprivileged groups and their carers. The project promoted cooperation among the community, residents, the business sector and government departments in giving support to those in need and their carers, with a view to fostering a carer-friendly neighbourhood.
LOVING OURSELVES MORE, STANDING FIRM AGAINST DRUGS TOGETHER
- To address the persisting problems of drug abuse and delinquency among youths in Yuen Long, and support the Ninth Three-year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2021-2023) promulgated by the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau, the District Social Welfare Office formed a working group called “Project D - Love Ourselves More” with 11 local social service units in September 2021. By collaborating with local stakeholders, the working group disseminated anti-drugs message among young people and community members, and helped them take on a healthy and positive outlook on life, thus preventing and reducing young people’s exposure to drugs and enhancing their law-abiding awareness to stop them from partaking in illegal activities or delinquency.
PROTECTING OUR YOUTHS, PAYING CONCERN TO MENTAL WELLNESS
The District Social Welfare Office has been implementing the “Peer Gatekeeper Project” since 2017-18 to raise the youth’s mental health awareness, help them take on a positive outlook on life, and encourage them to be the gatekeepers of their peers. The project also aims at raising the public’s concern over the mental well-being of children and adolescents. In 2021-22, two Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness in the district joined the project. Together with 15 youth service units, the Cyber Youth Support Team and the Mobile Van for Publicity Service on Mental Wellness that were already a part of the project, the total number of participating units reached 19. The content of the project thus became more diversified, and thus better suited to addressing the emotional needs of young people in the district. 19 services and programmes were implemented under the project to facilitate intervention at the individual, school and community levels. These services and programmes included mindfulness exercises, groups and talks in schools, and service promotion campaigns on the internet and in the community, etc. Apart from enhancing the mental health awareness among the youth, school personnel and community members, and helping the youth to establish a positive outlook on life, the project also equipped young people with sufficient knowledge and skills to become the “gatekeepers” of their peers and support each other. Last year, more than 10 000 people benefitted from the project, while the total number of beneficiaries over the years exceeded 40 000. The project has proven to be a success.
SERVING THE COMMUNITY, PROMOTING VOLUNTEERISM
- In 2021-22, the working group organised different types of activities, such as designing publicity materials, producing social media sticker packs and holding graffiti workshops, to enhance the youth’s understanding of the scourge of drugs and the importance of cherishing oneself. By widely distributing the social media sticker packs and publicity materials designed by the youth, the working group enhanced the youth’s sense of law-abidance and the public’s concern over anti-drugs matters. In addition, two professional training workshops were held in December 2021 and January 2022 respectively for frontline social workers and related professionals to enhance their skills in handling high-risk youth cases. The workshops attracted over 110 participants. The project benefitted over 9 000 youths and community members and received positive feedback.
PROTECTING CHILDREN AND FOSTERING FAMILY HARMONY
To strengthen the capacity of professionals from different disciplines to deal with domestic violence, the District Social Welfare Office regularly organised professional training courses on family and child protection, covering topics such as early identification of cases, crisis assessment, violence prevention, post-trauma counselling and multidisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration. In 2021-22, the District Social Welfare Office organised two seminars, namely “Supporting Families in High Conflicts: Combating Epidemic and Ridding Adversity” and “Protecting Children from Being Abused: How to Early Identify and Support Children and Youth Suffering from Cyber Sexual Abuse”. Over 200 participants, including members of the social welfare and education sectors, as well as police officers and other local stakeholders, attended the training and were positive about the experience. In addition, the Integrated Family Service Centres and Family and Child Protective Services Unit under the District Social Welfare Office organised a total of 226 groups and programmes in 2021-22 to promote child protection and harmonious families, attracting some 3 000 participants.
- In 2021-22, although Hong Kong had yet to emerge from the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers in Yuen Long continued to leverage their talents to contribute to the community by participating in different kinds of volunteer work. To further promote volunteerism in Yuen Long, the District Social Welfare Office launched a project called “Bettering Yuen Long with Volunteering” from November 2021 to February 2022 to encourage everyone in the community to take part in volunteer work, and help spread warmth and care to every corner of the community. The project attracted the participation of social welfare service units from different sectors and schools in the district. 36 creative volunteer services of diverse nature were carried out under the project, including inviting children with special educational needs (SEN) to perform African drums for persons with intellectual disabilities; doing handicrafts with children with SEN; conducting concern visits; distributing anti-pandemic supplies; and providing after-school care for children. About 1 300 volunteers participated in the project, which received overwhelming response and benefitted over 1 800 people.
- To encourage people of different ages and skill sets to take part in volunteer work, celebrate volunteers’ contributions to volunteering in Yuen Long, and commend them for actively helping others, the Yuen Long District Co-ordinating Committee on Promotion of Volunteer Services has been organising the annual Yuen Long Outstanding Volunteer Election since 2002. Last year, a total of 115 nominations from 38 social welfare service units, schools and community stakeholders were received. The judging panel, composed of 16 scholars from tertiary institutions and representatives from primary and secondary school heads associations of Yuen Long district, conducted adjudication through video conferencing. The 16 judges offered encouragement and guidance as well as shared their volunteering experiences with the nominees during the process, and by doing so affirmed their contributions to Yuen Long District. The Committee produced a short video to look back on the Yuen long District Outstanding Volunteer Election 2021 especially for the award-winning volunteers. The video was uploaded to the Internet for the viewing pleasure of volunteers and the public, as well as promoting the spirit of helping and loving one another through volunteering.