Always there to lend a hand: Social workers in our World Social Work Day Commemorative video (left to right), Chan Jia Hui, Leela Narayana, Taha Mattar, Rachel Tan, Peh Lay Siew and Vithyah Vetrivell

Our social workers are the backbone of Singapore Children’s Society, and their passion for their work shines through. Ask Ms Leela Narayana, a social worker who has dedicated her career to helping our beneficiaries, and she emphasises how helping is not a quick fix, but a journey.

“There are ups and downs, and you need to celebrate the small successes along the way,” says the Assistant Director at Student Service @ Children’s Society.

The Society’s beneficiaries are not looking for instant solutions, just a steadying hand when they need one most. That can come through in the smallest of gestures, explains Ms Chan Jia Hui, Social Worker at Children Outreach @ Children’s Society. “A simple call or text message to check in can go a long way.” 

Ms Rachel Tan, Director at The Fort @ Children’s Society, oversaw the Society’s residential home, Sunbeam Place @ Children’s Society, before moving on to head the Youth Development Group. She remembers an 11-year-old resident who had meltdowns every other day. 

Knowing about the child’s attachment issues, she made space for that child in her office where she could sit and draw or paint. She appreciated Rachel’s efforts and wrote her a little note expressing appreciation for the fact that she was simply there. “Despite children’s façades of being tough and difficult on the surface, deep inside they could be facing issues that they are struggling with.” 

For Ms Peh Lay Siew, a social worker at Yishun Family Service @ Children’s Society, the breakthrough came with a gift of breakfast when she visited a boy who faced multiple stressors and had school attendance issues. “He realised that I cared for him as a person and wasn’t just trying to get him back to school or to get my job done.”

Sometimes, care even comes full circle, says Ms Vithyah Vetrivell, Senior Social Worker at Yishun Family Service @ Children’s Society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she received calls from beneficiaries who wanted to make sure she was okay.

Ms Leela added that it is also uplifting when she bumps into beneficiaries she has helped, and they recognise her and thank her for helping get them to where they are.

“Social work is about journeying with our clients,” says Mr Taha Mattar, Senior Social Worker at VOX @ Children’s Society, pointing to a group of youth he had worked with over four years. In that time, they grew from teenagers into young adults, taking on new responsibilities. 

It is a privilege to be a part of that journey, he says. “We help them become the people they want to be.” 

March 16 was World Social Work Day. Meet Singapore Children’s Society’s social workers in our commemorative video, and hear them debunk commons myths around the profession.