Part 2 of the series on the social services ministry of the Methodist Welfare Services features a social worker at a Family Service Centre.
‘THERE is no typical day in my work as a social worker at Covenant Family Service Centre because I also handle various administrative tasks.
For example, I collect and compile the statistics for our cases, administer the School Pocket Money Fund for our centre and collect and submit our staff claims for reimbursement to MWS Headquarters. I also double up as the IT person and handyman. I am regularly rostered on our parenting helpline, write some articles for and lay out our thrice-yearly newsletter.
I conduct parenting workshops and when I am not giving a talk, I help out in other ways. Recently, we launched a networking project to make more people aware of our programmes and services. I get invited to give talks in public areas. Although I do a lot of casework, I am but one of eight social workers and counsellors in our office.
Manning our parenting helpline is the most rewarding part of my work. The interaction with the beneficiaries is short and whatever I need to do to complete the case must be done in minutes. When I say “complete”, it does not mean that the problem is solved. Ten per cent of our cases are solved by the beneficiaries themselves almost instantly, while another 10 per cent need a bit more time or a few follow-up calls before they are resolved.
The rest of the cases are unlikely to be resolved because the beneficiaries’ expectations are unrealistic or unachievable and they will not settle for anything less. Some of them have personal issues and cannot see other perspectives. For example in a family situation, they might be communicating in a way that turns off others and they do not realise it.
Problems in families are often related to communication and relationships. The answers to all these problems are found in the Bible. In most cases our beneficiaries are not Christians so at times the message has to be translated into something they can understand. It is very hard to tell them a Bible story to bring out a point. I suppose it would be fun to work with families who are Christians and I could just share anything from the Bible to make a point.
“Speak the truth in love” from Ephesians 4:15 strikes me the most in my work with families. The short verse says quite a lot, especially as most of the problems of people are related to communication.
There are two parts to the passage: one is communication and the other is love. The communication part has a lot to do with how we speak to people, how to use the right words, how much to say and how much not to say. “In love” is the reason we speak. It applies to ourselves, our relationship with the beneficiaries, and our beneficiaries and
their relationship with their families.
I have been a social worker for 22 years. Most of the cases given to me are family-based and more difficult. What keeps me in the profession is the idea of doing something that can be of help to people, where I can share my experience, knowledge and ability in my work with parents.
I have learnt many things, handled different situations and experienced much. The exposure has helped me gain a depth of experience in different areas. Sometimes I feel I have a lot in me – insights, experiences, ideas, and knowledge gained – and I wonder how I can share them in appropriate ways.’
Sim Ngee Mong is a senior social worker at Covenant Family Service Centre.
MWS Family Service Centres
These centres offer professional advice and support to families in distress. Core programmes include casework and counselling, information and referral, preventive and developmental programmes.
Covenant FSC Tel: 6272-8558 Fax: 6283-6361
Daybreak FSC Tel: 6756-4995 Fax: 6752-4709
Kampong Kapor FSC Tel: 6299-7662 Fax: 6294-2116
Sembawang FSC Tel: 6754-7050 Fax: 6754-0112
Tampines FSC Tel 6787-2001 Fax: 6787-4459