Hong Kong Christian Service

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Issue 002
2014 July

Who would speak for the Withdrawn?

"Withdrawn youth" have recently become the talk of the town again when a 33-year old man who had withdrawn from society for 9 years committed suicide by charcoal burning. The tragedy, however, was just the tip of an iceberg.

Being a social service organisation offering services to "Withdrawn Youth" for over 10 years, we fully understand they are not, as they were usually labeled lazy, or just want to have a good time therefore they stay at home. Quite the opposite, it was their unpleasant past experiences that made them lose the confidence and sense of security for themselves, people and circumstances, even the drive to survive. Actually, they long for a change, and are awaiting re-born.

Concealed internal potential awaiting outburst

Withdrawn Youth is not what they are labeled as devoid of any merits, they possess all sorts of potentials, but they prefer learning quietly at home, not sharing with others. According to our experiences using interest-based model, we focus on 3 areas: leading them to re-explore, affirm personal value and build up their ability, all these help gear them forward. Through paying visits to them to let them experience different interesting activities, to help them realise their potential and value, and gradually rebuild their faith in people. During these 10 years’ of service, we witness many successful examples that are able to make a change and strive forward towards their goals.

Appropriate matching service helping to breakthrough from withdrawal

The active participation from the general public and corporations in offering them acceptance and inclusion are very important. Corporations, through providing them job opportunities could enable them to develop their potential again, coupled with the support from the public, all these boost positive energy. Social workers could be the bridge for this platform, linking up various parties to offer help for these withdrawn youth accordingly.

Urge for a Hong Kong-wide survey

According to our research in 2006, we estimated that there were 20,000 withdrawn youth. However, our service has been receiving outside referrals and parents’ calls for assistance, it shows that the number is on the increase and that the findings in 2006 were insufficient to reflect the current situation. Due to the shortage of manpower, we cannot follow each and every case individually, we are well aware of the pressure on these families, the mental health of these youth and the implication on the society at large.

This withdrawn youth phenomenon has existed in the society for more than 10 years, recently there are withdrawn middle-age people, it is undeniably an issue not to be overlooked. To tackle the problem effectively, we urge the government to conduct a Hong Kong-wide survey on the withdrawn population, and to have a long term strategic plan to offer matching services to this withdrawn population, and never to let this group of forgotten people continue to live invisibly, and no more recurrence of tragedies.

 

 

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