Prof. NG Yat Nam Petrus
2020-2021 is a year full of challenges.
Joint response to the epidemic
In response to the repeated outbreaks of the coronavirus epidemic, Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong keep changing different operational arrangements in order to protect our service users and employees in response to the need to fight the coronavirus. During the year, lots of anti-epidemic supplies, shopping vouchers, nutritious food, soup vouchers and other materials were distributed. Apart from expressing our sincere concerns when they are separated from each other, we also hope to help to enhance the immunity and to reduce the chance of infection as much as possible. Since the first half of 2020, in order to align with the government’s epidemic prevention policies, all our departments have adopted stringent inflection and prevention control and declaration measures. In addition, non-emergency physical services have been suspended and we have arranged some staff to work from home to provide our service users telephone and online supports. During this period, we have received sponsorships from Jockey Club Community Sustainability Fund and Providence Foundation Limited, and so we are able to give service users, family members, and primary and secondary school students with free mobile phones, tablets, data packages and other equipment. Aim on replacing the physical gatherings and services in our centres temporarily, many trainings regarding online communications are provided and to enable the relevant people to adapt the new normal of services. However, there are services that need to operate around the clock, such as residential training services and our hotline service, JUSTONE 24-Hour Community Mental Health Support Project, responding to the needs of the community without interruption. In the early stage of the epidemic, the number of calls in the hotline service had an increment of 17% in just two months. It is obvious that the public’s need for emotional support is also increased. We also strengthened individual health education in the residential training services. We employed strategies by setting up some equipment to reduce interpersonal contact and suspending guest visit to reduce the possibility of virus infection or spread. And each residential service unit also conducted drill exercises during the year to simulate immediate response measures in the event that an individual in the house was infected, so that our colleagues and roommates could be well prepared for possible crisis that may happen. Since then, in response to the government's epidemic prevention regulations, colleagues have also tested and vaccinated regularly as needed. With the concerted efforts of service users and colleagues at all levels, all departments of this association have achieved a comprehensive prevention of virus infection.
Restructure and make good use of expertise
We sincerely valued different stakeholders’ participation of the Fellowship’s affairs, therefore we have established multiple advisory committees on different units and the members include mental health service-related professionals, persons in recovery, family members, and volunteers. Over the years, different services have undergone different developments and achievements, and there is a need to reorganize the structure of the advisory committee. In order to optimize the arrangements of the advisory committees and make good use of human resources, the executive committee resolved in 2021 to reorganize the advisory committees of service units of the similar nature so that more professionals can join other subcommittees in order to strengthen the operation of the entire governance team.
Stable resources, sustainable development
Although the continuing recurring epidemics are causing barriers and individual service users may have negative emotions as affected by the social atmosphere, our outstanding colleagues adhere to their pure hearts, stick to their posts, and take continuous service provision as their own responsibility not only to maintain high-quality service, but also open up new projects. During the year, our financial reserves were sufficient, and the lump-sum allocation reserve continued to be maintained at an optimal level; human resources were also very stable, and the staff turnover rate was also dropped significantly compared with the previous year.
In terms of service development, our hotline service, JUSTONE 24-Hour Community Mental Health Support Project, is sponsored by the Lee Hysan Foundation, Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation and Kerry Group. This service will be extended for another two years starting from January 2021, and we hope that the government will support this project in the future and make it as our another subvented service. Up to now, the hotline introduced the chat robot, Justbot, as a service triage, to provide online support that allow citizens to ask for help simply through text messages, and the further upgrade of the system allowed integration of internet phone and computers, so that various departments can operate related services at the same time, which greatly improves the flexibility of the service.
During this year, we have developed a number of brand-new services. As the service needs of youth and young family members have gradually attracted attention, we have implemented the "Mental Health Smarties" service plan, which provides parent-child play therapy training on our ICCMWs (Aloha) as the service base. In addition, in order to improve the life skills of the service users of our residential training service and to increase the green environment, sponsored by The Board of Management of the Chinese Cemeteries, "Finding the Root of Life" project was implemented using horticultural therapy in Tsui Wah House to attract the participation of the service users; and the aquaponics system in the project is enjoyable and educational. In the second half of 2021, our Alohas in Wong Tai Sin and Hong Kong East have received funding from the Arts Development Fund for the "Always Have Your Stage" project to allow participants to develop their own strengths and learn to express themselves in musical instruments or drama.
Our service development is not limited to the regular services. Colleagues continue to develop innovative service projects to respond to the growing needs in the community. In 2021, headed by Horace Cheung, the project "Daddy Hour" was selected by InnoPower@JC: Fellowship for Teachers and Social Workers as one of the funding projects this year, and training and development funds were given. Richmond Fellowship Community Network has also received the sponsorship of the Freemasonry, and entrust the Fellowship and implement the "Mission CIRCLE" Project together to further train the talents of its members to develop self-help organizations.
In public education, apart from regular intervention services, our agency provided mental public education through various social and mainstream media. Last year, our social media activities have been substantially increased according to the needs during the pandemic period and social environment. In the third quarter of 2021, we obtained the sponsorship from Janssen Pharmaceuticals to launch a two-episode mental health program “If-you-feel-alone” in ViuTV to address the relevant knowledge and personal experience in depression in Hong Kong by professional staff and caregiver.
Promote the service concept of "Recovering Citizenship"
After years of deliberation, our agency plans to localize relevant service methods in Hong Kong with reference to the service concept of "Recovering Citizenship" originated from Yale University. As early as the beginning of 2020, we sent six colleagues to Yale University to learn how to apply the relevant techniques. Yet after they returned to Hong Kong, the COVID-19 epidemic happened, and so only online activities and trainings to other colleagues could be delivered. And until September 2021, we launched the relative pilot group in online mode. Now the first phase of the pilot group has been completed as scheduled and the second phase group can be carried out face to face in response to the alleviation of the epidemic and I believe the result will be better. In addition, the graduation ceremony of the first family training course was held in 20 August 2021. From the perspective of another stakeholder, the participation of family members represents the support and promotion of the Recovering Citizenship. The 14th AsPac International Mental Health Conference was originally scheduled in Hong Kong in December of 2021 to showcase the practice and reflection of the Recovering Citizenship. However, we need to put off the conference to the end of 2022 due to the impact of customs and quarantine regulations in various countries caused by the epidemic.
Despite the repeated epidemics during the year, many face-to-face services could not be delivered due to the implementation of new public health policies, yet we maintained financial and manpower stability and at the same time we launched various new service development and public education by receiving sponsorship from the government and multiple foundations, as well as strong support from colleagues among different professions, persons in recovery, caregivers, and volunteers to respond to the demand for services from the society. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Fellowship, I would like to convey my sincere thankfulness to all the stakeholders for your every effort made to support us in person or financially. And I need to thank our hard-working colleagues who dedicate their efforts to overcome different challenges during this remarkable year. Because of you, Richmond Fellowship of Hong Kong continues to walk with the people in need in the society!we need to put off the conference to the end of 2022 due to the impact of customs and quarantine regulations in various countries caused by the epidemic.