PART 9: THE SOCIAL SERVICES MINISTRY OF THE METHODIST WELFARE SERVICES
Ms Connie Ng, Tampines Family Service Centre’s Assistant Director, strongly believes in supporting and nurturing social workers to enable them to help others.
‘AS THE Assistant Director at Tampines Family Service Centre (FSC), my responsibilities include overseeing the general operations at the centre and taking charge of two of our core programmes: Information and Referral, and Casework and Counselling.
In addition to my own case load, I supervise four case workers or junior social workers.
I was a fresh graduate when I joined the Methodist Welfare Services at Daybreak FSC in 1998. I started out as a case worker, handling mainly financial cases. Then I went on to handle family violence cases.
In 2004, an opening for a senior position came up at Tampines FSC and I was recommended for the post. I was thankful for the opportunity.
Having had different experiences handling parenting, marital and family violence cases as a social worker, I am better able to manage the social workers under my supervision. But the job is also more challenging. I have to “walk the talk” to be a good support. It is easier to do things myself than to teach but it is important to pass on my skills and knowledge so that more people may be blessed through the supervisees. The needs presented by the people we help are many and varied, so it can be trying, but it is worth the effort.
The people I supervise are of varying levels of experience and training, and of different personalities. The key task is to motivate them to nurture the right attitude and develop their competencies.
When social workers do not have a supportive and nurturing environment, they will find it scary to handle issues they do not have personal experience in, such as marital cases, if they have not been married. Journeying with them helps them to gain experience and knowledge.
Supervision support is often neglected because of the lack of manpower, time and funds. But if we enable them to mature in the profession through positive experiences, they will make a big difference to the people they help.
I believe in the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”. The types of cases I used to handle at Daybreak Family Service Centre had more to do with family violence and now here in Tampines FSC, they are about marital and parenting issues. Such variety ensures that my days are never dull. What I like about my job is that it is people-focused because it also helps in my personal growth.
In the past 10 years, I have had the privilege of supervising 10 social work students from the National University of Singapore. I was privileged to have given them maximum exposure in the FSC setting and to see several of them still practising social work is very rewarding. One of them is now employed at Sembawang FSC.
Another rewarding experience for me involves a single mother and her daughter. The daughter, a polytechnic student, used to beat her mother so badlythat they needed mandatory counselling.
It was a case of a mother refusing to allow her daughter to get married for fear that the girl would end up in an unhappy relationship and become a single parent like her. After our mediation, there was reconciliation and the mother was very thankful.
It was rewarding to realise that I could be a channel to make each of them see the good intention of the other. It was good to see how the relationship has progressed – the mother became involved in the marital preparations.
One of the biblical verses that often comes to mind in my work is Matthew 5:15-16: “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
This is a guiding verse for helping professionals like me. I know God has given me this light and imparted me this life so that I can help others. God uses people to help others journey through their difficulties in life.
Being in this profession has helped and strengthened my faith. Some of the cases have been beyond us – sometimes committing the people involved to God is the only answer!
My tolerance level has also increased because in my work I see people who can be very demanding, irritating and frustrating. I have also become more resilient.’
Tampines FSC is a community outreach of Methodist Welfare Services and Pentecost Methodist Church.
Address: Blk 470 Tampines St 44, #01-194 Singapore 520470