A passion for people, a person of great patience who encompasses a “never-give-up” attitude and a desire to be an agent of change. That is what it takes to be a social worker, according to Victoria Yee from City Harvest Community Services Association.
Since young, Yee has enjoyed helping people. She was appointed to be the pastoral care councilor (who was in charge of community service projects) for her peers in secondary school and junior college days. This zeal paved the way to her graduating with a Honours Degree in Social Work at the National University of Singapore. The skills and knowledge she has gained help her to mobilize change and improve the lives of people who are in need.
|PHOTOS: Sharlynn Pek|
1. In your role as a social worker, who are the people you have helped?
I’ve helped a wide range of clients — children, youth, elderly and needy families such as single-parent families and ex-offenders.
2. Can you give us some examples of successful cases?
Once, I helped a group of at-risk students. They played truant and were not interested in attending school. The teachers labelled them as troubled teens in the school. I remembered that one of them was under probation with MCYS. After 6 months of mentorship, groupwork sessions, they responded well and became more interested in attending lessons and learning in school. The teachers saw the change among the students as they tried to get involved with activities in school.
I explored counseling inmates for 1 to 2 years. Most of them were incarcerated for various reasons. After some time, I found that they could possibly be one of the most sincere and grateful clients I help. After 6 months of group work and counseling, some decided to leave their gangs and do something meaningful in their lives upon release. There was an ex-inmate who was under my care who found a job almost immediately after he was released. After working for a month, he approached me and offered to help as a volunteer. Today, he is helping others through mentorship programme!
There was once I helped a mother with 4 young children. Their father was imprisoned and life was very challenging as the sole breadwinner was not around. I linked resources to help the family and explored working opportunities for the mother. Through my interaction with her, I found that she loves to bake. With some help, she managed to get an oven and started a small baking business. One of our volunteers designed a flyer to advertise her products for her. She has clinched quite a number of deals since. Now, she is happier and more positive.
3. Can you give us some examples of unsuccessful cases?
Some clients do not give me sufficient information to help. Sometimes, even when information is given, the referred person is not open for help.
4. What are some challenges you face as a social worker?
I guess it is true that people are habitual creatures. Some clients are fixed in their minds and are not open to new ideas. They feel that they lose control over their lives if they change. These people always feel that they need help when in reality, they have the ability to help themselves.
A personal challenge I have is the emotional burden I sometimes carry upon myself. I have a tendency to offer help to every client I come across but however, not all will fall within our service boundaries. For instance, we currently don’t offer shelter and hence would have to refer them elsewhere. There are also times I fail to care for my body and fall sick in the course of work. Thankfully, my boss and colleagues have been very supportive.
5. What are some of the joys experienced as a social worker?
Receiving simple thank you letters from clients are very heart-warming. I love to see their lives changed for the better, especially when they start to manage on their own.