Wednesday 31 October 2012

Four receive awards for outstanding contributions to social work: SASW Social Workers Award 2012

By Sing Geok Shan, Channel NewsAsia, 29 Oct 2012

Four social workers were honoured on Monday for their outstanding contributions.

At a ceremony at the Istana, President Tony Tan presented the Outstanding Social Worker of the Year Award to Esther Lim and Wu Mei Ling.

Jean Koh and Ivan Woo received the Promising Social Worker Award.

The recipients were recognised for their case work as well as for their efforts in staff management, research and education.

Winners receive cash, personal development grants and training valued at about $100,000.

Organiser Singapore Association of Social Workers hopes the event will inspire more people to join the profession.

Mr Alvin Chua, President of the Singapore Association of Social Workers, said: "To attract new blood and promote retention, I would like to encourage every social worker to be a living testimony for our profession, as no one else would be able to share more passionately about the strengths we observe in our clients and the transformations we witnessed in them in our day-to-day work."

It has been 17 years but Outstanding Social Worker award winner Esther Lim still remembers how she convinced a patient, who was suicidal, to change his mind.

He took her advice and shared his debt woes with his wife.

Ms Esther Lim said: "Although the wife doesn't have the money to help him, the wife understood his problem and told him that they will brave this together. So a year later, I received a New Year greeting card from this patient and on the card it says, thank you very much, just to let you know, I'm still alive."

For the 39-year-old medical social worker, the satisfaction comes from seeing her patients recover and moving on with life.

She now leads a team of 75 personnel as Head of Medical Social Services at Singapore General Hospital.

For those who want to thrive in the job, her advice to them is - learn how to manage the challenges.

Ms Lim said: "Not to take in it on themselves, not to bring home the cases. There must be a way where we know that we have done our best and to actually have hobbies, have friends, spend time with family, have priorities in life so that the social workers would be able to enjoy a long and fruitful career."

Also making a difference is Outstanding Social Worker Award winner Wu Mei Ling, Centre Director for the Students Care Service.

The 39-year-old reaches out to students who are struggling in school.

A pioneer in her field, Ms Wu says issues are getting more complex.

"Divorce rates are going up and really families are stressed in multiple directions. Somehow their parenting roles do get affected and as a result of this, some of our children and youth come with needs that are beyond bread and butter," she said.

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