Students and Alumni

Social Work Training Drives Peggy's Community Service Mission

LEUNG Wing-yan Peggy
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Graduate of 2006

Children who bene ted from Peggy's award-winning project were o ered a chance to meet the famous American basketball player LeBron James.

Some stay-at-home mothers at On Tat Estate help working mothers with baby-si ng, and their kids have become friends.

Peggy LEUNG has found her calling in community service, with a special focus on youth development. The holder of CityU's Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Social Work, and its Master of Philosophy, Peggy is employed at the Hong Kong Christian Service (HKCS) and is the project leader of the HKCS Jockey Club Anderson Community Support Network. Recently, her project won the Gold Award (non-thematic section) in the Best Practice Award 2017, organised by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS).

After graduating from the MPhil programme in 2006, Peggy first spent a year as a social worker at a children's home, and another year on a working holiday. In 2009 she joined Kwun Tong Happy Teens Club, operated by HKCS. “My work has always been focused on support for children and adolescents,” she says. “Social workers had a major impact on me in my formative years. Growing up on public housing estate, I was deeply influenced by social workers who provided a lot of help and support.”

Peggy was so inspired she decided to become a social worker, contributing to society through community work. “I enjoy growing together with the children and adolescents,” says Peggy, who was once part of the HKCS' Integrated Children and Youth Service, and was for six years a social worker at a local secondary school, specialising in supporting South Asian students. “I am glad that I was able to help the South Asian students explore, and eventually unleash, their potential.”

Peggy's award-winning project is the “New Public Housing Support Service - Street Work Approach” initiated by HKCS Kwun Tong Happy Teens Club , which provides holistic support for residents moving into the new On Tat and On Tai Estates on Anderson Road in Kwun Tong, expected to house an estimated 50,000 people. In a joint collaboration with “Jockey Club Anderson Community Support Network”, funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the project strengthens its community network for the services in the new housing estates.

For this programme, Peggy and her team have adopted an innovative approach, designing the community support programme from the “strengths” perspective. “We aim to unleash the residents' potential and mobilise them to do volunteer work to help and support one another,” she says. “Everyone can contribute. The goal is to build a community as quickly as possible. Our first task was to deepen our understanding of the residents, apart from helping them tackle some tangible issues. We have organised various events that facilitate the residents' mutual understanding, networking and, eventually, becoming friends. For instance, some stay-at-home mothers help working mothers with baby-sitting. Their kids have become friends. Another feature of the programme is cross-sector support. School transfer is a major issue among the thousands of schoolchildren who have moved into the two estates. We appreciate that many schools have volunteered to help, and they organised three rounds of information days, featuring nearly 40 schools, over the past year. Many secondary school teachers and students regularly provide tutoring services for free.”

As project leader, Peggy not only needs to take care of frontline social work, but also has management responsibilities. “I oversee the project to ensure all plans are implemented properly. I also need to look after the finances and supervise the work of our team members.”

We aim to unleash the residents' potential and mobilise them to do volunteer work to help and support one another
Peggy Leung

Peggy says she owes much of her frontline social work knowledge and practical skills to her studies at CityU, as well as practicum experience. One such work placement was with a project supporting the city's new arrivals from the Mainland China, organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. “I was so lucky that my supervisor was the professor at CityU's Department of Applied Social Sciences, who not only helped provide advice on social work intervention but also engaged me in in-depth discussions on skills, social issues and welfare policies. Dr Raymond CHAN was my supervisor in my first placement who acted as my mentor and role model. He inspired me through his actions and guided me to dig deep into the challenges facing new arrivals. Dr KAM Ping Kwong was our class teacher in three-year social work learning programme. He gave his guidance on my personal development. He also taught me a lot of social work values and community work skills during our research project on labour rights for the South Asian organized by our class association in Year 3. Their professional advice helped equip me for my career and widen my horizons.”

A practicum experience at a boys' home has also had a long-term impact on Peggy's outlook. “As a counsellor, I had to help problematic youths handle some highly complex issues. I also worked with veteran social workers at the home, and was inspired by their commitment and resourcefulness. I learned to take a more proactive approach when it came to supporting youths. Although this was only a practicum, I believe I showed that I was not there just to learn but was also able to make a contribution.”

For her MPhil study, Peggy was involved in in-depth research for a project looking at the relationships between local fathers and their children who had just immigrated to Hong Kong. “Given my research experience, I am able to work on empirical research and carry out quantitative and qualitative studies at work. I apply those skills to organising data, identifying focuses, and developing conceptual and theoretical frameworks to present the information in my projects,” Peggy says.

Up until now, most social work in Hong Kong has been remedial, Peggy believes. “I hope that more local youths will become involved in issues of social justice,” she says. “Our community support also includes advocacy. We convey to the government the community's demands concerning facilities, support, and new estates' welfare structure.”