Only as Good as Our Last Man - Part Three

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Only as Good as Our Last Man - Part Three

When things get tough for Julia Ao, a Social Worker at Fei Yue Family Service Centre (FSC), she fondly recalls the bright moments when the families she works with find hope and motivation through their adversities. Read on and be inspired by Julia’s story…

The most challenging thing for Julia and her colleagues is not so much the complexity of the cases faced, but the emotional difficulties that come with the job.

Even at the beginning of a case when a social worker engages with a family, there are numerous difficulties that arise. For one, families usually approach the FSC during their lowest point, and moreover, expect a quick-fix solution from the FSC. Unfortunately, there is rarely such a thing as a quick fix for most cases.

“In order for us to pace with them, we also hope that they will be able to pace with us,” Julia explains. “What can be difficult is having to manage their emotions while trying not to get emotionally entangled in the case ourselves.” Hence social workers not only have to manage their clients’ expectations but also try to solve issues even when their clients are in a distressed state.

To help with this, Fei Yue FSC has a support system in place where social workers have supervisors to consult with. This ensures that social workers “never feel alone on a case", Julia says. "This feeling of support is what keeps us going every day through the various challenges we face.”

On how she is constantly inspired to keep doing her very best, Julia explains that despite the many difficulties she sees families go through, there are always those really bright moments. “When you are working with a family, you sometimes see the parents lose their jobs and the children have not enough money for school… but the moment they find a good, stable job and they find hope and motivation, that’s when things really pick up. That is when everything changes.” 

One of Julia’s really bright moments was the time when she was working with a family who was chronically low in finances and had little to no education. They had a hard time managing relationships due to their forthcoming behaviour. As a result, they could not hold stable jobs and survived by going through garbage selling what they could find. They also struggled to support their three children and eventually approached Fei Yue FSC for help. Julia engaged the whole family, inviting them to participate in suitable programmes to increase their visibility within the community, addressed the employment challenges they faced, and eventually saw both parents finding stable jobs after 10 years of job-hopping. The family has now held down employment for two years in a row, and in fact told her one day, “you can close the case and help other people now. We are okay. We can manage.”

“That’s really the ultimate goal for families with complex and financial needs; when the risks have lowered and they are able to sustain themselves independently.” Moments like this, when a family achieves independence, is when Julia feels the most fulfilled.

Even though the FSCs are here to support their clients, it is also a partnership where clients have to put in as much effort to help themselves. “When they finally see the fruits of their own perseverance and hard work, that’s really rewarding, “says Julia.

Ultimately, Fei Yue FSC would like the community to know that FSCs cater to everyone in the community and not just to certain groups of people. Anyone should feel welcomed to walk-in or call-in for more information about the services available. Fei Yue FSC also offers a range of opportunities which their clients may be lacking, and also hold a variety of useful programmes from “Languages of Love” parenting classes to budgeting classes. The FSC would also like to encourage more to volunteer, as they always need volunteers to help out and engage with the community.

After all, “an FSC is a place for the community to come together and support one another”, says Julia.

Indeed, every FSC is a place where no man gets left behind.



More on Fei Yue Family Service Centre

Fei Yue FSC provides services like counselling and community support programmes. Individuals and families in the community facing marital issues, parenting difficulties, mental health concerns such as depression or suicidal thoughts, as well as those who encounter crises in their lives can approach the FSC for help. Fei Yue FSC will provide them with individual counselling, attend to their needs and provide or refer them to other forms of help within the FSC’s means.

Their clients are usually referred through letters or call-ins from schools, the police, social services or other agencies within the community. By being connected to other resources in the community, it gives the community yet another source of help in times of need. Some clients also approach the FSC for help from a friend’s recommendation or through the various fairs, workshops and outreach programmes organised by the FSC.

Play your part for the community by joining us in our drive to help families in need at Play It Forward, YewTee Point from 13-19 June 2016.


Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog series for more stories from Care Corner Family Service Centre and Punggol Family Service Centre.


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