Director's Report

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In the past year, “Walking Together for Advocacy and Wellness” was adopted as the theme for the Fellowship to promote service development as well as to further enhance and strengthen the participation of the people in recovery (PIR) and their family caregivers in organisational affairs. At the same time, each of the mental health services applied recovery as axis, leading the peer support among the PIRs for the empowerment and deepening of advocacy work, with increasing efforts, to affirm their role in the mentally recovery progress.

 

Progress of promotion of recovery work

In the past few years, the Fellowship has been promoting recovery as its development orientation. From the beginning of promotion of understanding recovery to staff and service users, to the implementation of the practices in the service units and cross-unit collaboration, as well as further enhancement in the past two years emphasising the empowerment and promotion of advocacy work for service users, considerable achievement had been obtained.

In 2016, the Fellowship was given additional funding allocation to employ four part-time peer support workers. Together with five additional self-financed peer support assistants, peer support workers were appointed to service units to share their recovery journey to service users. During the period, peer support staff were stable with significant improvement in self-confidence and capability. Effectiveness of peer support service was highly appreciated by all staff and service users. Service will be regularised starting from 2018.

During the year, PIRs and their family caregivers of the Fellowship took part in public meetings many times discussing on social issues and policy affairs related to mental illness, including interviews with the Legislative Council members and attendance in the meetings of the Legislative Council, with their expression on the concerns of people in recovery and their family caregivers. On various public occasions, service users were actively engaged in expressing their thoughts and feelings in a lively way, for instance, drama performance in the Annual Dinner, arrangement of opera and serving as master of ceremonies at the 2nd Mental Health Conference, and to produce promotional materials to express their feelings and concerns through “Photovoice”, as well as to present in the international conference. PIRs also have substantial influence in organisational operation, for example, some of them were involved in the recruitment of new employees in service units, fully demonstrating the role as stakeholders. Besides, the Fellowship has recently decided to invite family caregivers of PIRs to join the Executive Committee. Together with the members taking part, PIRs and their family members have reviewed important affairs and participated in decision-making in Executive Committee meetings.

 

Self-help and mutual support of PIRs and their family caregivers

The Fellowship has given full support for promoting self-help and mutual support among PIRs and their family members. Heart to Heart Club, a family service mutual support organisation, has been established for over ten years. With significantly expanded number of the members from a dozen at the outset to 650 at present, the Heart to Heart Club has more active members than before and the scope of work was no longer limited to networking among members and to solve their personal problems, but to extend care and support to other families in need, to help them overcome the challenges generally faced by caregivers, and to share the known and learnt knowledges with people who follow in their footsteps, to pass on the torch and to form a community support network with continuous growth.

Mutual support of PIRs has begun from playing the volunteer roles to help the needy as service users in different units, to developing mutual care and establishing a self-help organisation. Richmond Fellowship Community Network (RFCN) of the Fellowship is grateful for the fund from Drs. Richard Charles & Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Foundation. After the two-year development, a number of passionate and capable PIRs are recruited to have training for promotion of the organisational work and strengthening training of leadership. RFCN is not only the base for peer support training and practice, but also for cultivation of four peer support workers, who shared their valuable recovery experience and carried the helping attitude forward. In this year, RFCN was formally registered as a self-help organisation for further self-reliance and mutual support, and relocated to our unit in Yau Ma Tei for ensuring convenience for more members to actively participate.

Self-help and mutual support of PIRs and their family caregivers had also been developed to the cross-border ties and collaboration. In the past year, they participated in exchange activities of Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan and the Hong Kong Taiwan International Conference on Strengths Perspective 2017 in New Taipei City. They, as trainees, also visited the Sichuan West China Hospital to share their recovery and caregivers’ experience with the local PIRs and their family members. Through the process, they were highly appreciated and recognised by the local service workers.

 

Evidence-based interventions

The Fellowship has always put great emphasis on service quality and has continuously evaluated the effectiveness of the services with a view to on-going optimising the service level in response to the needs of the community and service users. JUSTONE Mental Health Support Service has been operated by the Fellowship for years, and has all along been reviewing and enhancing its service during the practice, as well as conducting research for the service effectiveness. In March this year, the Fellowship presented the service effectiveness and evaluation report and later was delightedly recognised by the Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation for the service, leading to the generous donation for the coming 3-year funding and could further enhance the scope of services. The two mental health support services namely JUSTONE and AlohaLink were incorporated into JUSTONE Mental Health Linking Project, which not only concern the needs of all the original service users, but also introducing family support and advocacy elements to enhance the acceptance of the PIRs by the public. With the values of the service item being generally recognised among the public and strong support from the Social Welfare Department, we expected that the service can be allocated with regularised subvention in the end.

The Fellowship has jointly cooperated with four organisations for the “Daily Meal Network- Short-term Food Assistance Service” with an on-going service evaluation. Through collaboration with the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, latest data analysis was being published regularly. In June 2016, a work briefing session cum research press conference was held for the project, which affirmed the value of the service in poverty alleviation, and published the information of analysing the help-seeking circumstance of the service users. The Fellowship would expect the service to be subvented by the recurrent funding of the Government after the expiry of service contract in March 2018.

 

Concluding remarks

With the increasingly earnest expectations of social service organisations from the public, the Fellowship attaches greater importance to the empowerment of PIRs and their family caregivers as well as enhancing their participation. When facing different challenges and constraints, the Fellowship would still continue to ensure the efficient use of limited social resources with unflinching courage and perseverance, optimising services and benefitting more service users.

 

Dr. FUNG Cheung Tim
Director