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Christian Service News

Issue 36 (July 2002)

Topic : Director's Column

Moving forward in times of inadequate resources

Mr Ng Shui Lai

It is often seen in history that social welfare expands rapidly in times of depression and great social needs. It seems ironic that at a time when resources are scarce, the demands are greater than ever. History has witnessed that humanity and solidarity in community prevail at times of hardship.

Hong Kong had been fortunate in becoming an affluent society over the past 30 years. Resources allocated in public sector for social welfare has been reasonable although there is criticism for further improvement. Over the years, the funding of social welfare in Hong Kong has built on the assumption that the economic environment grows continuously. However, this is no longer true. We now find ourselves in a situation where resources available for social welfare are shrinking in both public and private sector.

What can we do then? As mentioned above, material abundance is an essential aid in times of hardship. However, we often focus on merely the material aspects when we look at social welfare service. It is easy to take care of one's material resources. However, it is the non-material resources that will determine how far a society as a whole can cope in times of resources constraint. Whereupon, we must rediscover the role of non-material resources and their positions in social welfare.

Promoting mutual help is another area needs to be emphasized. It has been too long in Hong Kong that the informal network has not been taken seriously as it should be. It is time for us to facilitate the building up of people's willingness and capacity to help one another.

Constant review of priority and concern about effectiveness is also an important way to manage the shortage of resources in social welfare service. This requires all those who are engaging in social welfare service to reaffirm their commitment; and as an agency to revisit its mission.

Constraint in resources is a less than favorable reality we must face today. Yet, to triumph over it depends greatly on whether one determines to move forward in spite of it or to simply stand still.