Another Week Beyond – 1836

Dear Friends,

Together with peers from 3 other agencies, our colleagues participated in the first module of a Family Group Conferencing Co-ordinator Certification Programme. Over the next 12 months, they will be organising family group conferences (FGC) with guidance from the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences Germany as well as Daybreak Family Group Conferences and Eigen Kracht Centrale, the key conference coordinating agencies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands respectively.

The underlying idea of a FGC is very simple. If we have a problem in our life that cannot be easily resolved, we ask our social network to think things through with us. Regardless of our personal history, we would have a social network but maybe we have become a little detached from it or feel a little ashamed or embarrassed to re-establish contact. In such a situation, a FGC co-ordinator could help convene a meeting on our behalf involving our family and friends. At such a meeting, our family and friends will be trusted with the responsibility of the problem-solving process.

Trusting family groups to make crucial decisions concerning their own well-being requires us to firstly, believe in their capability and capacity to do so. For helping professionals, this is not so easy. In 2012, data collected from all FGC agencies in Germany revealed that 93% of referrals described concerns in terms of people’s deficiencies such as poor parenting, dysfunctional marriages or negative peer group influence and only 7% cited structural issues such as the low wages, lack of access to health and other social support. When there is little focus on the context, circumstances or structural issues that sustains problems, people are problematised and are more likely to be regarded as incapable or even irresponsible.

Training involved role playing and as participants got into the role of a family group assembling to resolve the care arrangements of a teenager who was allegedly sexually abused by her step-father, it was quite difficult divorcing the role of a helping professional. Normally in such situations, there will be some family members who will doubt the girl’s accusations but because everyone was a helping professional, such a scenario did not play out. Apart from the mother and step-father, every family member took the side of the girl and not one person gave the step-father the benefit of the doubt. He was scheduled for a court hearing but to this family group he was already guilty as charged.

The case scenario was fictitious, but I am sharing it to highlight how difficult it is for us to get away from our identity of a helping professional. As helping professionals, help is our domain but as a family group conference coordinator, the role would be to return problems to the people so that help comes through their social network. It is not that people will no longer need social services but the decision to access services would be theirs to make.

Helping people to help themselves is a key tenet of social work but when much of what we do discourages this and maintains people’s position as consumers of services, it is just lip-service. Recognising the limits of the social services we provide, and our own abilities must be the first step toward treating others with fairness.

Enjoy your weekend.
Gerard
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
Alice Walker

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read More »

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read More »

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read More »

Another Week Beyond 2425 – Do you see me? Do you hear me?

by Nina, Community Relations Do you see me? Do you hear me? Last Saturday, we held a Learning Journey for members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). This is an immersive journey we offer to interested parties who are keen to understand how   communities in public rental housing live, work and play. Our 19 YPO guests were led on a Community Walkabout by 11 Community Guides – each a resident of Lengkok Bahru of varying ages. Their task was to lead our visitors through shared spaces in the neighborhood, while revealing the purpose and character of each area visited. After

Read More »

Community, a place to care and grow (Another Week Beyond – 2424)

By Grace Yew, Community Worker “Pergi, jom” (Let’s go!). We go back to office with you to help you carry all these. You one person, how to carry all alone?” Fauziah insisted as she walked to the side of the lorry, ready to jump onto the passenger’s seat. Her husband who had helped her to hoist two huge tables and fifteen stools onto the lorry followed.  I laughed in disbelief.   It was 6 pm and Fauziah, had been out since ten in the morning, supporting 15 children to set up a community gathering below their flats that boasted carnival-style games

Read More »

Another Week Beyond – 2423

“Oh no, more bee hoon,” a mother uttered half embarrassed. “We need to coordinate better the next time,” she added. Our colleague who was present at this children’s birthday party organized by neighbours quickly responded, “Hey, we are having a been hoon feast prepared in 3 different ways and it’s great to have 3 flavours!” The generosity, hospitality and ownership displayed by the organizers were the indicators of success that we sought, and these were already in abundance. For example, a young man appeared in his military uniform to check that the cake his mother had baked on his behalf

Read More »

Reconnecting with Gratitude 

2 weeks ago, our senior advisor Gerard received an email titled “Reconnecting with Gratitude” from someone who volunteered with us 20 years ago.  She told Gerard that she got his email from a friend of a friend and wanted to thank him in person for what he had said to her then. “I recall what you said to me that has impacted my life to this day,” was how she had put it.  She wrote that she was helping with a juggling programme where she accompanied the children to performances and as she was driving them back to the Centre

Read More »

Another Week Beyond – 2421

“Don’t bring your hooligan attitudes from your neighbourhood into ours!” A mother screamed at a teenager as he continued taunting her from a distance. Just a few minutes ago, the teenager and his friends were enjoying a game of street soccer against opponents below 12 years old.  His friends and he were visibly bigger and those watching were rooting for the “home team” of younger boys.   When spectators accused one of the older boys of unsporting rough play, play stopped, and angry words were exchanged all around. Recognising that they were not welcome, the older boys left the court grudgingly,

Read More »

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read more >

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read more >

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read more >