Promising Social Worker Award - Lim Shen Yong, at the Outstanding Social Worker Award Ceremony 2019
Congratulations to Mr Lim Shen Yong for receiving the Promising Social Worker Award 2019!
The Promising Social Worker Award recognises contributions of social workers who are newer in the field but have made a difference in the lives of their clients as well as the community!
Let’s hear what he has to say after receiving the Promising Social Worker Award 2019!
Interviewer: Out of curiosity, what makes you want to become a social worker?
Shen Yong: You know, when I was growing up, I was often negatively labelled due to my academic performance. I was streamed into EM3 during my primary school years, and subsequently to Normal Technical stream and enrolled into Institute of Technical Education (ITE). During that time, there was the negative perception reflected in various media and peers, which greatly affected me.
But looking back, I was lucky to have my parents who always believed in me, and gave me room to discover and explore my strengths. In addition, my teachers and lecturers in ITE had never given up on me, supporting and helping me to improve my skills and inspire me to play a similar role.
With that, I stumbled upon social work during my university days in National University of Singapore (NUS), where I could join a profession that provides support to youths in similar situations, journeying alongside them towards achieving their aspirations in life.
I: Sounds very passion-driven! [Laughs] So why did you join AMKFSC Community Services to do so?
SY: [Laughs] Yeah! When I first started, I managed to serve my internship for my undergraduate studies at Youth Infinity under AMKFSC Community Services (AMKFSC). During that time, I was deeply inspired by the work that the social workers at Youth Infinity did for the youths and their family.
Their passion and commitment at that time, especially in working with youths, are in line with my personal values of “取诸社会 用诸社会” which means “what I had receive from society, I will give back to society”. It made me realised that I could start contributing back to the community with all the support I had received so far.
Thus, I approached AMKFSC and mentioned that I am interested to join Youth Infinity to continue to play a part in supporting youths, especially during this critical developmental phrase in life.
I: Is that why you like working with youths, especially as a social worker?
SY: Yeah! [Pondering] That is one reason, but another thing that I like is being able to create opportunities for the youths to have a voice while being a role model for them.
When working with [youths], I noticed that some of them are often unable to express themselves due to their personalities, lack of words to express themselves, or being too overwhelmed by their situations and challenges, which they may feel lost and helpless at times.
And being in the position to go through this with [the youths], it is a privilege as they trust you enough to share and allow you to coach them in communicating with their loved ones, and most importantly to share their thoughts and feelings. It can be a long journey before they feel comfortable and ready to do so by themselves, but it is meaningful and fulfilling at the end of the day when you see them moving on and being the best versions of themselves.
I: But do you face challenges when working with them? Or as a social worker?
SY: I do face many challenges at work. But one of the key challenges I face at work would be working with parents on parenting. I observed that regardless how successful one might be in their career or how educated one might be, parenting is one of the common challenges among parents, and often, they do not seek support, and they get overwhelmed with the challenging behaviours exhibit by their child.
I: How do you manage that?
SY: [Wondering] What I find helpful would be going to their work places to have a quick check with them and explore one or two ways they could try at home. Many parents are willing to continue working with me when I am open to visit them at their workplaces. As many of them have busy work schedules and are unable to take half-day leaves to travel to my centre to attend parenting sessions, a quick face-to-face meet-up with them during lunch break works.
I: It does seems like a lot of work to be done. But what keeps you going?
SY: The thing is that when working with youths, one key thing to remember is being able to give them a voice and coach them in moving forward. [Laughs] And knowing that I am able to support them by being a trusted adult figure in this critical phase of their lives and create the space to develop their self-confidence, makes me work harder at what I do.
I: So far, is there any incident or youth that is very memorable to you?
SY: Many youths have many inspiring stories, and they have each impacted my perspective in life.
[Hmm…] One of the youths shared about how our working relationship helped him to discover himself and regain his confidence. He confided in me that he was experiencing panic attacks but did not wish to tell anyone due to his past experiences as he did not want to appear vulnerable. Due to this, he had been keeping things to himself for many years.
As I work with him, he started to open up and share with me more things. This experience made me realise the importance of pacing with clients instead of jumping into conclusions too quickly. Besides that, I have learnt how to appreciate the little things that clients share as those might be their most vulnerable moments.
I: It is indeed inspiring! And thank you so much for sharing and congratulations on winning the award!
SY: Thank you!