Remarks by Chairperson and Chief Executive
Between 2019 and 2020, Hong Kong experienced months of social unrest, followed by the ongoing trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. Society as a whole has been overwhelmed with a gamut of emotions–from anxiety and fear, to anger and sadness.
The social service sector has also faced challenges. HKCSS and our agency members continue to provide timely and crucial support to people in need, in collaboration with business, foundations and other professional sectors.
During the pandemic we supported disadvantaged groups in several ways. We mobilized resources within a short period of time. We collected and distributed personal protective equipment like surgical masks, researched grassroots families’ needs during the pandemic, and offered emergency financial assistance to unemployed and underemployed people. We distributed food coupons and meal vouchers to impoverished families, to make sure they could buy nutritious food to eat and stay healthy.
We also worked together with various companies and charitable foundations on financing social service organisations hit by the pandemic, especially non-subvented organisations. We called on the government to provide these organisations with financial aid to sustain their services and operations, and to pay their staff.
We launched the “Time to Heal” project for people who had been badly affected by the social crisis. In particular, we targeted individuals who had developed mental health conditions, and people overwhelmed by the stress of family relationships and parenting. We also organized numerous seminars and training courses for frontline workers. This project was subsequently extended to cover people who might have developed traumatic stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an unstable social and economic environment, civil society and cross-sectoral collaboration has become even more important. The utilization of previously accumulated social capital is critical for the alleviation of social problems. This year, more than 4,000 companies and organisations were commended by the “Caring Company Scheme”. In a tough year for Hong Kong, this is an encouraging figure. It reflects the caring and persevering spirit of Hong Kong people.
As for other key projects, “Nam Cheong 220” in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong’s first “Modular Social Housing Project” was completed and made available to tenants in August 2020. To raise public awareness and give recognition to small and non-subvented organisations, ten NGOs were chosen for the “HKCSS Most Impactful Small and Medium-sized Non-subvented NGOs Award”, after a selection process that engaged different sectors. Moreover, HKCSS Institute and NGO Governance Platform Project continued to enhance the service, operation and governance capabilities of NGOs through various training and exchange programmes.
Facing the “new normal”, we will continue to work with the welfare sector and look into utilizing communication technology and tele-practising solutions to maintain effective services delivery and training and engagement of service users. We’ll soon be rolling out the “Gerontech Education and Rental Service” to cope with the challenges of an ageing population, facilitate ageing in place, and respond to the public’s demand for elderly care technology. In the midst of crisis lies an opportunity. The sector will explore more diverse service delivery models and equip ourselves for whatever challenges the future may hold.
In times of hardship, Hong Kong people not only strive to overcome adversity, they also lend a helping hand to others. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to each of you.