Online contest gives social workers chance to win HK$200,000 in funding

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:10am

An online contest is allowing social workers and the public to decide which innovative community work projects will win hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding.

"The March of Social Engineers" initiative received 360 proposals from social workers, which were put online for the public to review. Only registered social workers can vote on the projects, and the top 90 with the most votes will receive some HK$100,000 in funding from the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

At the same time the public can "like" their favourite project on the initiative's Facebook page. The 20 proposals from the top 90 which receive the most "likes" will get up to HK$200,000.

The initiative is backed by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and the St James' Settlement.

"Services need to be improved," said Christine Fang Meng-sang, former chief executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. "But sometimes it's also about educating the public … Who does the family consist of? What are their needs? These projects are a deeper look into what's been missed."

Projects range from therapy to help couples battling infertility and drama programmes for retired men to research into nutritious but tasty "soft food" for people who can't eat solids.

There are no feasibility or sustainability requirements in order to encourage creativity. "These are suggestions from frontline social workers. They know first-hand what the needs are because they are the ones interacting with the people," said Fang.

While it would take a long time to turn a project into a permanent government service, Fang hoped that the contest would spark innovation and new ideas within the sector and encourage dialogue.

Voting will close on Saturday, with the results announced next Wednesday.