Remarks by Chairperson and Chief Executive
The nearly two-year rampage of COVID-19 severely plagued the economy and people’s livelihoods. Grassroots and the underprivileged were particularly hard hit when society came to a near halt last year. HKCSS mobilised various sectors of the community, especially corporations and charitable funds, to provide financial support to needy individuals and families, while social service organisations did not only stay steadfast in their roles, but also improvised to provide additional services under the new normal.
We launched several key projects, including the first ever “Modular Social Housing Project” in Hong Kong – Nam Cheong 220. Completed in eight months employing the Modular Integrated Construction method, the project provided affordable and suitable transitional housing for over 80 households. Tenants’ rental burden was significantly relieved and the median living space per person more than doubled. In addition, the “Community Housing Movement” project, which completed with the provision of 500 transitional social housing units over the past three years, has been universally lauded.
Moreover, we collaborated with over 50 service units in the “Assistance Programme to Improve the Living Environment of Low-income Subdivided Unit Households” under the Community Care Fund. More than 20,000 lower-income households living in sub-divided units would be provided assistance in minor home improvements and repairs, purchase of furniture and household items, pest and lice control services, and referral to available community services and resources for support during the epidemic. At the same time, we would conduct surveys to explore their housing choices and service needs, urging the community and policy makers to address the plight of those living in sub-divided units.
In recent years, we have been dedicated to the development of gerontechnology. Apart from hosting the “Gerontech and Innovation Expo cum Summit”, we also launched together with three NGOs the Jockey Club “age at home” Gerontech Education and Rental Service to provide a one-stop gerontech education service, rental, cleaning and maintenance services in order to enhance the quality of life of the elderly and their carers. At the same time, the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund entrusted the Council to lead a collaboration with nine partners to design, build and operate a one-stop “Gerontechnology Platform” for knowledge sharing, training, consultancy services, platform matching, user engagement and testing support, with a view to creating new opportunities with stakeholders.
On the other hand, we continued to follow up on and advocate the development of social welfare services and policies, including understanding the impact of the pandemic on vocational rehabilitation services and grassroots employment, formulating the “Action Plan on Service Development for Carers of The Elderly”, advocating for the building of online family support services, launching the “Community Mental Health Project”, and advocating for the regularisation of the “Pilot Scheme on Social Work Service for Pre-primary Institutions”, etc.
Concurrently, we provided training, support services, and professional exchange opportunities for both the management and frontline staff of member organisations to improve their service, operation, and governance capabilities. As for the promotion of corporate social responsibility and shared value, more than 4,000 companies and organisations have been acknowledged under the Caring Company Scheme, demonstrating that the private sector is becoming more mindful of social benefits and sustainable development.
Although Hong Kong will continue to be affected by the pandemic for some time to come, every challenge is also an opportunity. When every one of us takes an additional step forward, the community will definitely outstrip the gloom, and our citizens’ lives will get back on track.