ZeShan Foundation to use Operation Santa Claus to boost social work
University programme provides training to senior administrators and trainers amid increase in demand on the mainland due to urbanisation
A local charitable foundation has its eyes fixed on a vast social project on the mainland - training enough social workers to deal with the effects of massive urbanisation and other trends.
Roy Chen Yang-chung, director of the ZeShan Foundation, said: "There is a lack of proper accreditation for social workers on the mainland. Now the government says it's important and is allocating more resources to it. But many people are rushing in, and the quality varies."
Since 2008, the foundation has been funding a programme at Polytechnic University that provides training to senior administrators and trainers of social workers on the mainland.
"There are many places on the mainland where people still don't know what it is when you talk about social work," he said.
At the same time, demand for social workers has increased with urbanisation, a rise in the number of migrant workers and more focus on mental health issues, far outstripping the supply of well-qualified workers, he said.
The foundation co-ordinates its efforts with those of mainland universities, said Chen. "We make use of our network to leverage co-operation with others."
Chen is the youngest of five siblings who run the foundation, his family's private philanthropy arm. It was founded in 2003 based on a Chen family fortune made through the property market with the Hang Lung Group.
The family named the foundation ZeShan - which literally means "to be benevolent" in Putonghua - in the hope of keeping the virtue alive by promoting good causes and helping those less privileged.
The training project for social workers on the mainland is just one of ZeShan's many strategic charitable programmes across various fields, including health and education.
The foundation also donates to charitable causes such as Operation Santa Claus (OSC), the holiday fund-raising programme organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.
The OSC appeal raises funds with a focus on small charitable organisations. "We understand these organisations usually have difficulties in fund-raising. OSC helps them to at least transform in scale," said Chen.
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