Reaching out to the needy
A positive attitude is crucial if you want to become a social worker
Young Post: When did you enter the field as a social worker?
Yip: After I completed the social work degree course at Polytechnic University in 1996, I joined the Salvation Army as an outreach social worker for two years. My work mainly focused on youth issues.
In 2001 I joined Yang Memorial Methodist Social Service. A year later, I started working at the Multicultural Service Centre for South Asian ethnic minorities, which comes under Yang Memorial.
YP: What are your duties?
Y: I do counselling and outreach work. We also visit schools and organise special programmes. These include employment schemes, depending on the problems faced by ethnic minorities at the time. Through social adaptation programmes we aim to raise their awareness of the local government system, their rights and the facilities they are entitled to, with the goal of enhancing their sense of belonging towards Hong Kong. We also hope the activities could help introduce their culture to the local Chinese, so that different ethnic groups can live together in harmony.
YP: What are the qualifications needed to become a social worker?
Y: A diploma or degree in social work. You must register with the Hong Kong Social Workers Registration Board to be a professional social worker.
YP: What inspired you to choose social work as your career?
Y: I think I was inspired by my experiences. I have been involved in volunteer work since I was very young. I have discovered that everybody has hidden qualities; they just need encouragement to develop those talents.
YP: What made you choose to serve the ethnic minorities?
Y: To me, every person is equal. Since I have more contact with the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, I have realised they are being neglected and we need to give them more support. I really appreciate their stamina. They have come a long way to a totally unfamiliar city, and they still chose to live and settle down here. YP: What do you think about your job?
Y: Each and every day is challenging. I come up against a lot of different cases and unknown elements in society.
It's a meaningful job. I feel like a traveller. I am grateful that [my clients] share their stories with me, which gives me a better insight into their cultures and traditions.
Through this job, I can share different people's real-life stories. I think this is the right job for me.
YP: Could you give some advice for those who aspire to become social workers?
Y: You need to have the heart to serve people. Explore your abilities in a positive way and widen your vision. Being a curious person could be an advantage. Chatting with different people could help you develop your own personal views.
We always remind ourselves that we are not saviours. We are here to provide the clients the skills they need to help themselves in life.
We must keep an eye on what is happening in society every day and increase our knowledge about society through reading newspapers and watching news. The society is changing really fast, and the services the clients need are also changing.
You should have a dream. If you don't have hope about the future, how can you persuade your clients to be positive?
Name: Shirling Yip Siu-chui Occupation: social worker Age: 30