Big Hugs for You – Comprehensive services for caregivers

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Big Hugs for You – Comprehensive services for caregivers

Parents worry about their children no matter how old their children get. Sometimes they are too absorbed in worries, neglecting their own physical and mental wellbeing and finding themselves burnt out and exhausted only much later. This time we share the stories of 3 mothers, who were overwhelmed by the challenging tasks of taking care of their children. Their life quality improved after receiving the comprehensive support from The Salvation Army Community Care Services, which helped them release stress, put down worries and love themselves again.

Worrying the future of her sons

‘I hope my two sons love and support each other; as long as they are happy, healthy and independent, I am content, ’ Yin (alias) ’s mom told us her greatest wish.

The 24-year old Yin and his 16-year old brother both have special needs and their daily life is challenging. With autism and a mild intellectual disability, Yin’s emotions fluctuated greatly.  For instance, he may throw a tantrum on the street when he is unable to ride the bus of the type he prefers; or he can have an emotional meltdown and throw himself on the street, drawing the attention of many passers-by. At the same time, his younger brother was bullied at school and was emotionally distressed, causing him to have digestive issue and to think about quitting school. Their mother was heartbroken by the plights of her sons but did not know how to get help. The family was struggling in grim days.

The family regained hope again when they found help from the Salvation Army. First it was Yin joining The Salvation Army Heng On Hostel’s on-the-job training Programme “Sunnyway”, where he received on-the-job training, counselling and guidance. Yin’s case was then referred to “Share-care” Parents Resource Centre, which provided multiple services to Yin’s mother that help her life. Whenever Yin gets unstable emotionally, social worker will guide Yin’s mother on how to handle the situation and provide her comfort and emotional support. Social worker also pays home visits to them, even during typhoon, to make sure the family can get assistance in a timely way. For the younger brother, social worker had been working with him for months building trust and connection and got to know what really interested him. When they knew that he has great interest and passion in cookery, they helped him to enroll in a western culinary institute. The younger brother gained confidence as he received the cooking training and has become happier and positive.

Yin’s mother said her life “has become much easier”. She can have some personal time when her sons have lessons. In her free time she has joined the seminars and health group meetings regularly held by the Resource Centre, regaining both health and hope in heart, mind and soul by learning how to make balance in life and release stress by doing exercises.

The Salvation Army ‘Share-care’ Parents Resource Centre

The Centre started its services in Shatin in March 2020. The services’ targets include persons of all ages with special needs, autism, intellectual disability or physical disability and their families. With the principal aim to offer “family-oriented services” and “companion support”, the Centre provided comprehensive professional community support to persons with disability or special needs and their families and caregivers. The Centre also provides group support and activities, assistance and networking services for families, in-depth healing group and individualized services.

Regain confidence by finding herself again

After becoming a mother, Ah Ching has put her kids first. She was busy with all the chores at home and has put aside her own hobbies and life. A few years ago, Ah Ching suffered from an illness in her throat, which had damaged her vocal cord and resulted in slurred and slowed speech. She lost confidence since then and distanced herself gradually from friends.

Her case was followed up by a social worker, who invited Ah Ching to join ‘Tuen Mun Caring Handicraft Workshop’ as the first step of stepping out the old life pattern and finding self-expression. At first, Ah Ching was distant, passive and was not so committed. She often participated the group only as a listener. But through a great amount of guidance, care and encouragement from social workers and team members, Ah Ching was moved and gradually opened up and tried to express herself. She explained that it was because of her health condition that her was acting aloof at the beginning. In the workshop, members appreciate each other’s works and share their own techniques with each other. The mutual care and support among members show Ah Ching that she is not alone, and she knows these group members are there for her to support her through the difficult times.

The Salvation Army ‘Tuen Mun Caring Handicraft Workshop’

Formed by a group of grassroots women at Tuen Mun, ‘Tuen Mun Caring Handicraft Workshop’ is a place where they can express their potentials and transform their talents into ability to help others. The group learns and develops fabric crafts and creates craft products with great passion. Their works express their potentials and talents, and more importantly tell the stories of them. Out of different reasons, such as the need of taking care families or lack of actual working experience, most of the members experience the difficulties of getting into the labour market, feeling they are restricted by life issues and conditions. Through joining the group, they learn together various handicraft skills and have the opportunity to sell their works later in bazaars. These experiences help them to get to know themselves from another angle and re-build their confidence.

Supports that bring relief from overwhelming stress

Primary 2 student Ho has concentration issue and his brother, 4-year old Ming, is autistic with language delay and can only speak single words. It was overwhelming for their mother Bonnie to take care of them around the clock, especially as both of the boys go to mainstream schools. At one point Bonnie was so frustrated and found herself worn out.

Finishing homework with Ho is a challenging task, as he always avoids doing homework or procrastinates in many ways such as playing games or watching TV. Bonnie has tried putting Ho into a tutorial class, but the situation got worsen as it was even harder to keep him focused on the homework as there were too many other students in the class. Meanwhile, the emotions of Ming, Bonnie’s younger son, fluctuate drastically and can be out of control. Bonnie was lack of support and felt helpless as she strived to take care the boys. As she needs to stay home to take care of her children, her husband became the sole financial support of the family. The high rent, high costs of living and the fee needed to raise the children gave the family considerable financial burdens, making their days tense and dim.

Through The Salvation Army ‘Care About You’ Family Support Project, Bonnie got to know how to get along with her children effectively and learn to face the difficulties with a positive attitude. To help Ho coping with the homework issue, the Project provided the boy individual homework training and home learning support, which lightened Bonnie’s worries. In addition, social worker paid home visits to the family to get an in-depth understanding of their situation and the needs of the children, which allowed them to help Bonnie by guiding her on how to communicate with her children effectively. Under the guidance of special child care workers and therapists, Ming’s cognitive and social skills improved. Bonnie was happy to see the improvement of her both sons, and was gradually able to relax herself and build a more positive outlook on life. Besides taking care of her family, Bonnie also wants to stay active and considers how her experience can help parents going through the same situation. “I see many fellow parents going through difficult times with various needs, I want to share my experience and help them just like I got help before,” said Bonnie. She joined the training and became one of the volunteers in the Project, hoping to give support to others who are distressed in similar situations.

The Salvation Army ‘Care About You’ Family Support Project

Supported by The Community Chest, The Salvation Army launched the ‘Care About You’ Family Support Project in Hong Kong in April 2020. The Project aims to provide family-oriented services and companion support for grassroots families with special need children between 2 and 12 years old. Their

comprehensive family support services include case assessment, counselling services, home visit support, parent group, family activities and seminars. Through building a supporting network among parents and caregivers, enhancing their caring knowledges and techniques, increasing their confidence in parenting and releasing the stress as caregivers, the Project works on assisting families to restore relationships and family dynamics.

The Salvation Army walks with caregivers, shares their worries and embraces their worn-out souls, helping them to release their stress, put down their worries and love themselves again. Your donation can empower us to help caregivers to tide over their difficulties. Please support our caregiver support services and give the caregivers in need a boost!

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