Saturday, 13 October 2012

NCSS celebrates 20th anniversary with new awards and scholarship

AsiaOne, 11 Oct 2012

The National Council of Social Services (NCSS) celebrated 20 years of service and accomplishments today at the Holiday Inn Atrium with the presentation of two inaugural awards and a scholarship.

With the theme 'Celebrating achievements, forging new frontiers', the members at the conference looked at key changes and upcoming plans for the social service sector with guest-of-honour Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mdm Halimah Yacob, also led the inaugural presentation of the Teresa Hsu Scholarship, Prime Minister Social Service and Social Service Talent Development Scheme (SSTDS) Awards.

Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong donated $100,000 towards the Social Service Scholarship for exemplary students keen to pursue a career in social services.

One of the new scholarships, the Teresa Hsu Scholarship was awarded to Ms Tan Qiu Ling, 20, who currently volunteers at Beyond Social Services to help disadvantaged children. The scholarship was set up in honour of the late Ms Teresa Hsu who devoted her life to helping the needy.

In his speech, Mr Chan offered hearty congratulations to the organisation for 20 years of services to the community and accomplishments, and brought up key challenges to come in the future.

Though these challenges may be tough, the minister said, "Together with the community, social services will be provided at the level which best meet the needs of the local residents".

Some challenges he mentioned included providing easy-to-navigate framework for the public to access, and attracting and retaining professionals in the social services industry.

To overcome the first challenge, Mr Chan said NCSS has to reflect on the network of resources they have in order to provide a comprehensive framework for the public to navigate.

In the area of manpower issues, the minister said that it is important to understand the needs of individuals to cater to their career aspirations.

He added that NCSS is currently "strengthening development tracks for our professionals to grow into specialists and leaders".

To continue providing quality and quantity services to the public, Mr Chan said the organisation needs to work the ministry and other agencies to capitalise on their resources to provide an integrated network of services for the people.

The NCSS is the umbrella body for about 400-member Voluntary Welfare Organisations in Singapore. Their mission is to provide leadership and direction in social services, to enhance the capabilities of social service organisations, and to promote strategic partnerships for social services.

Mum inspired him to help others
By Lim Yi Han, The Straits Times, 12 Oct 2012

WHEN Mohamed Fareez was 15, his father died. His mother, a saleswoman, brought him and his brother up by herself.

Despite the financial difficulties she faced, she would lend a helping hand to relatives and neighbours in need.

And this inspired Mr Fareez, now 31, to follow her example by getting a job as a social worker.

Yesterday, he was one of two people to receive the inaugural Prime Minister Social Service Awards at the annual members conference of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has donated $100,000 towards awards for exemplary students keen to pursue a career in social services. Two awards, each worth $10,000, will be disbursed each year.

The funding will allow recipients to embark on more extensive projects. The Prime Minister said in a Facebook post yesterday that he hopes his donation will "encourage more Singaporeans to pursue careers in social service".

Mr Fareez, who works for The Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centres, is deputy head of its Cheng San branch. He is pursuing a Master's in social work at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He said he would use the money for research on finding ways to better support low-income families.

He said: "Because of the hardships that we faced, we want to contribute back to society and support families who face similar situations."

The second recipient of the award is Ms Sarah Pennefather, 21, an undergraduate at NUS. She interned with the Children's Aid Society for six months. That piqued her interest in working with children and youth.

The devout Christian said: "I feel that it is a calling from God to help children who have been abused and neglected, and hope to better their lives."

Besides this award, another scholarship was given for the first time. Funded by NCSS, the Teresa Hsu Scholarship was set up to honour the late Ms Teresa Hsu, the founder of charitable organisations Heart to Heart and the Home for the Aged Sick, now known as the Society for the Aged Sick.

This scholarship went to NUS undergraduate Tan Qiu Ling.

The 20-year-old, who started volunteering two years ago, said she had gone through turbulent times.

Her father's business failed when she was 11, and the family faced financial difficulties. She said: "There were a lot of fights going on at home. My childhood wasn't worry-free."

The experience helped her empathise with others, and she hopes to help those in similar situations.

At the NCSS conference, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), which are members of the council, presented initiatives addressing social issues in a bid to win funding for their ideas. The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) beat four other VWOs to win $15,000.

Aware has proposed an iPhone application to help victims of domestic violence and abuse get help quickly. The application detects and records sounds with high decibels, and sends a text message to alert a selected person that the iPhone owner might be in trouble.

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