Meet Chan Jian Hong, a Social Worker at a family service centre. He helps individuals and families to cope with personal, social and emotional challenges. This is his story.
What sparked your interest in social service?
My mother, who is one of the important figures in my life, sparked my interest in social service when she brought me to different talks. I attended a talk on benefitting society and the rest was history.
Why did you choose your specialisation? What are your roles and responsibilities?
I am a Social Worker at a family service centre where we help build strong and stable families in Singapore. We harness community resources to help individuals and families better support and empower one another. We also provide support to address personal, social and emotional challenges of individuals and families.
What are some challenges you face at work? How do you overcome them?
I recall a project at a HDB block. I organised a potluck party and visited the residents regularly prior to that. However, one week before the programme, there were no replies from the residents. My colleagues encouraged me by saying that it was not a failure and that we need to focus on the next step, which was coming up with a contingency plan. We came up with one and held the event successfully. This enforced my belief that a workplace with kindred spirits and teamwork helps to overcome any challenges I may face at work.
What are some memorable experiences in your career?
One memorable case was a mother-youth pair who came to the family service centre to seek help for the teenager’s anger management issue. We worked on how the teen can respond differently when he’s angry and how the mother can provide support by handling matters appropriately. After a few months, the mother enquired about paying for the counselling services. However, I told her that the centre provides services at no cost. Upon hearing that, she donated to our centre instead. I realised that when you do something without asking for anything in return, the people who benefitted are often very grateful and want to pay it forward as well.
What is one myth that you would like to dispel about the social service profession?
Social service professionals do not work with just the poor. That was how social work may have started, but as our society progressed, social service has expanded to support people facing mental health challenges, social isolation and other issues. We strive to provide a good ecosystem of mutual help that benefits diverse individuals.
How has the social service scholarship benefitted you?
NCSS provides mentoring, and invites us to dialogues with policymakers and special networking sessions, so that we can develop holistically. Through these, I get to meet many other passionate social service professionals who continuously inspire me to forge ahead on this arduous but rewarding journey to serve the community.
What advice would you give to those considering a scholarship with NCSS?
My advice is to think about the extent that you are willing to give to the community. From my professional experience, I feel that the more I give, the more joy I receive.
A role in social work is one of many in social service. To find out more, read about a career in social work.