Our Story
Everyone needs a hand to hold on to.
Derrick Lau
Assistant Senior Social Worker, REACH Youth Powerhouse
Published on 13/06/18

Meet Derrick Lau, a social worker in the youth service. Through his work, Derrick provides support and help to troubled youths, guided by his belief that one special moment with them is enough to inspire a change in the course of their lives. This is his story.

What’s your role in the social service sector?

My primary role is supporting and guiding troubled youths through activities such as counselling and group work. On top of that, I supervise junior colleagues in their work, and oversee ground up community programmes.

How does your work impact and empower your clients?

I like to believe that I steer the course of my clients’ otherwise wayward lives towards the right path.
A lot of them come from less nurturing environments, which leads them to believe they aren’t good enough for society. Keeping this in mind, I try my best to shift my clients’  attitudes and how they see themselves, by broadening their perspectives of the world and social systems.
I believe that the young people I work with only need one special moment to be inspired to change. While it may not always happen immediately, I’m optimistic that it’ll happen somewhere down the road. Which is why, I will find ways to connect and encourage them whenever I have the chance to; you never know when something as small as a talk or a pat on the back could be a major opportunity for change.
What made you want to join the social service?

My first introduction to the sector happened 11 years ago, when I took an intensive counselling certificate course. From there, my interest only grew, as I learnt more about the various social services and gained greater exposure. This made me realise one important fact: that society’s privileged need to know that there are often sad stories behind every misguided young person that goes down the wrong path.

Of course, everyone makes mistakes – what more the young and frightened? We as a society simply have to learn to judge others less, while reaching out more. Unsurprisingly, this was one of many reasons that led to my decision of obtaining the proper qualifications to become a certified social worker.
This came as a bit of a surprise to my friends, who felt that it was a sudden change in profession for someone who was 35 years old – especially considering how I was moving from music to social service. Yet to me, it felt like a natural progression. In music, a huge portion of the work is to invoke and inspire. It’s likewise in youth service, only more direct – as I channel my experiences, and what I went through in my own life to help troubled youths.

How do your colleagues keep you grounded in your work?

Good colleagues are an extremely important factor in our work. I’m very fortunate to have senior partners and colleagues who not only support me psychologically and emotionally, but are ready and willing to stand in on occasion. They will put down their own work, just to lend a helping hand. We work as a team, and we believe working together can get us further. 

“We work as a team, and we believe working together can get us further.”

What advice would you give to fellow social service professionals to keep at it?

I’d say continue the good work you’re doing in making the world a better place. It would also be good to develop an iron mind, a gentle heart, and a big appetite for adventure.

A role in social work is one of many in social service. To find out more, read about a career in social work.

Pictured is Derrick's colleague, David Choo Rui Qun leading a group of youths in a jamming session.