“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine
Building the New Normal Together: Striving Excellence for 40th Anniversary
It is highly impressive to witness the tremendous courage and persistence of Hong Kong citizens in using many viable means to overcome the unprecedented challenges raised by the coronaviral pandemic over the past year. As we are gradually building a “new normal” in society, the Fellowship has paid close attention to the adjustment needs of people in “returning to normal”. By reviewing our service experience, we have made efforts in co-creating the following opportunities with the community, thus fostering a mental-health friendly and inclusive society for all.
Timely Response to Critical Incidents in Society
Since the unpleasant incident related to mental health issues at Hollywood Plaza in Diamond Hill in June 2023, a heightened sense of awareness has been raised among Hong Kong citizens, in terms of expression of mixed feelings with controversial discussions. The Fellowship has been highly responsive in taking measures to provide care to the individuals and neighborhood involved, in terms immediate emotional support, timely debriefing, and proper training. We have also built our capacity in professional staff training by means of Trauma-informed Care, in terms of Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) to support the society at large, in coordination with government authorities and relevant local organisations. Hence, we have offered timely remedial support to the community, in addition to various preventive measures of raising public awareness on mental health, thus disseminating the message of “prevention is better than cure”. “JUSTONE” mental health support hotline service is our long-standing signature project that provides initial assessment, emotional support, and service referral, thus fully reflecting the preventive measures we have offered, hence building a mental health safety net for the society.
Moving Forward in United Front despite Adversity
The extreme weather condition with “Black Rain” emergency situation on 7-8 September 2023 has brought disastrous damage to Integrated Vocational Rehabilitation Service Centre located in Chai Wan. The services of the centre has been unable to operate since the flooding that totally ruined all of the properties and equipment, when the flood rushed into the premises soaking up to a maximum height of 1.6 meter.
While all the service users have been advised of temporary suspension of vocational training, there is a higher risk of mental health deterioration with prolonged idling without meaningful engagement for these people in recovery (PIR).
In coordination with Social Welfare Department and other government authorities, we were most grateful for the kindness and generous support from various community organisations, local churches, funding sponsors and the Youth Square, we have gradually rented different premises and nearby facilities for service users to continue vocational training and group activities. We have also expedited the application procedure of Lotteries Fund and supplementary funds for premises renovation at the site, with high attention of media coverage on this tragic incident.
Strategise Human Resources in view of Rapid Challenges
In view of the increasing fluidity of human capital in society, particularly for professionals in the social services, we have placed great emphasis in capacity building and staff retention, in terms of various human resources management and strategic staff training, so as to continue providing high quality mental health services.
All managerial staff, including Team Leaders, Managers, Senior Managers, Assistant Directors, and Director, have undergone a reasonable period of Business Coaching individually, with highly positive feedback. In the Senior Staff Retreat, we have provided training in “Design Thinking & Innovation”, facilitating the adoption of innovative mindset with relevant skills in service development. We encouraged managerial staff to take human resources training courses offered by Hong Kong Management Association (HKMA). We continued to provide In-Service Training (IST) for professional and frontline staff in key areas of training: Clinical Intervention, Recovering Citizenship, Practical Skills, and Executive Management. Using the Self-Initiated Staff Development (SISD), a total of 118 staff members submitted 164 applications, with approved sponsorship of $201,525, and 299 sessions of work.
In terms of overseas training, we have sponsored a total of 13 delegates (11 staff members and 2 board members) to a one-week study tour to London in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2023. This delegation has paid visit to Ms. Elly Jansen, Founding Director of Richmond Fellowship, in celebration of our 40th Anniversary. They have also gained meaningful learning, in terms of half-way house service, caregiver support, policy advocacy, Recovery College, and NHS Talking Therapies Program.
In terms of human resources strategies in staff recruitment and staff retention, we have implemented critical measures, by means of shortening the lapse time in staff turnover, offering competitive remuneration and compensation package, strengthening training for managers, professional, and frontline staff, and using online platform for candidate interviews. All of these strategic moves have gained positive return, in that almost all of the professional positions have already been filled within a reasonable period.
Sustain Recovering Citizenship to Promote Holistic Wellness
Moving beyond Recovery-oriented service provision, we have made tremendous efforts in learning the conceptual underpinnings of Recovering Citizenship (RC) from Yale Program of Recovery and Community Health (PRCH), with orderly implementation of RC-focused services at the casework, programme, and community level, followed by ongoing program evaluation and evidence-based research. The essential core work in RC is the operation of “Citizens Class”, in that people-in-recovery participates in weekly group meetings, primarily facilitated by Peer Support Workers, with regular supervision and consultation by senior staff. We are delighted to announce that six groups of Citizens Class have already been completed, with highly positive feedback by student participants and peer facilitators, resulting in three batches of graduates who later returned to assist in subsequent classes.
While we have continuously conducted vigorous evaluations on RC programmes, a study on telephone survey for general public’s attitude and knowledge towards RC has been published at Journal of Public Mental Health in May 2023.
We organised a webinar on Recovering Citizenship and Community Mental Health in May last year given the concern of social distancing due to covid-19 pandemics. Upon releasing border restrictions, we have been organising the Asia Pacific International Mental Wellness Conference, entitled “Recovering Citizenship: Care, Collaboration, Citizenship” in Hong Kong on December 7 to 9, 2023, furthering Recovering Citizenship across different service sectors, in terms of exploring viable ways to provide proper care, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the local community, as well as our international counterparts.
Pioneering Innovative Services to Celebrate our 40th Anniversary
As we are adapting to the “New Normal” that demands a radical revision of the traditional way of thinking, practice, and skills to manage new ways of living, mental health is taken as utmost important in supporting holistic wellness, to facilitate such adjustment in life. In response to the Advisory Committee on Mental Health’s (ACMH) recommendations to enhance community mental health services, we are very proud to announce that the Health Bureau has officially approved our tender proposal to operate the 24-hour Mental Health Support Hotline as pilot run for 18 months, to be commenced before end of 2023, with at least 84 supporting organisations in the community. This governmental endorsement has given the Fellowship high recognition in our 12-year operation of JUSTONE hotline service. We are so grateful to the funding sponsors, namely Lee Hysan Foundation, Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation, and Kerry Group for their ongoing support.
We are also delighted to announce that Richmond Fellowship Community Network has been successfully granted the recognition of “IR88” as tax-exempted charitable organisation in May 2023, and such entitlement opens up the Network to various opportunity for application to government subsidies and fundraising channels on further development. In view of the important role of family caregivers in supporting people in recovery, we have launched “Family League” Caregiver Support Project, as sponsored by ACMH Mental Health Initiatives, training up Caregiver Peer Supporters for mutual support to caregivers.
To facilitate first-time fathers to adjust their new role and learn relevant skills, we have organised a project “Daddy Hour”, as sponsored by JC Innopower, with positive feedback from daddy-to-be participants and their spouses.
In terms of arts development in people in recovery, we have launched “My Little Story” Recovery Journey Art Project, supported by Arts Development Fund for Disabilities, SWD. Through systematic sand art training, participants were trained to acquire knowledge and skills in performing sand art, leading to public art exhibition for promotion of art inclusion for disabilities.
The “Project KoL” Key Incentives of Living - Mental Health Support Project for Elderly in Residential Homes, sponsored by Mental Health Initiatives Funding Scheme aimed to enhance mental well-being and living quality for elderly living in residential homes. RE:Bound aims to provide timely assistance for the general public through a user-friendly mental health help-seeking platform.
The newly launched “Eld x Family” Life Education Project, funded by BMCPC-Shine aimed to enhance the elderly’s positivism, vitality, resilience and strengthening their family support network.
The two Integrated Community Centres for Mental Wellness have also joined the JC JoyAge Project, supporting staff with proper knowledge and skills in casework and group work for the elderly living with depression and anxiety. To promote holistic wellness, we have closely connected with community partners, including District Health Centres, District Elderly Community Centres, in promoting the integration of primary healthcare and community mental health for service users.
In summary, all of these innovative service developments have been strategically launched to address the specific needs in various clientele, striving for excellence in service provision, in celebration for our 40th Anniversary, as we make another big step to the future, running on the forefront of mental health.