PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 12:00am

In response to Fiona Wong Kai-ki's letter headlined 'Help genuinely needy' (South China Morning Post, December 17), I would like to point out that the government has put in place a comprehensive set of welfare services to assist individuals and families who are in genuine need.

These include the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) which provides a safety net of last resort for individuals or families who cannot support themselves financially for various reasons, such as old age, disability, illness, unemployment or low earnings. Non-contributory but means-tested cash assistance is provided to bring the income of needy individuals or families up to a prescribed level to meet their basic needs. All members of the community who are in need of financial assistance can apply for CSSA.

There is also an extensive network of 66 family services centres and integrated family service centres providing counselling and tangible assistance to assist individuals and families in tackling their personal and family problems. Referrals will be made for the needy customers, such as an amputee, to receive, for example, accommodation assistance, rehabilitative services and financial assistance, as appropriate.

Furthermore, street sleeper outreach teams of the Social Welfare Department and non-governmental organisations provide outreach visits, counselling, immediate shelter and hostel placements, employment assistance, referral for medical or drug treatment and other support services to street sleepers. The objective is to help them become self-reliant and reintegrate into the community.

Lastly, I fully agree with Ms Wong that every one of us has the responsibility to help out.

This can be done by caring about the people around us, rendering them assistance as may be required, and referring them out to professionals for services when necessary.

Let us join hands to build a caring community.

FUNG PAK-YAN, Assistant Director of Social Welfare

(Family and Child Welfare)