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Social service teams to help residents in urban renewal

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) announced today (Saturday) the appointment of The Salvation Army for the setting up of an urban renewal social service team to provide professional social work services for residents affected by the Hai Tan Street/ Kweilin Street/Pei Ho Street and Lai Chi Kok Road/Kweilin Street/Yee Kuk Street projects in Sham Shui Po, beginning tomorrow.

"Social service teams play a very important part in our people-oriented approach during the implementation of urban renewal projects," said a spokesman of the URA.

"Redevelopment of an old residential area inevitably causes some changes to the everyday life of the residents affected. Some of them, in particular the elderly, the handicapped, single parents and new immigrants, would welcome a helping hand from social workers professionally trained in handling personal and family problems in these situations," he explained.

In the past four years, the URA has appointed four social service teams to assist residents of 18 redevelopment projects in which over 1400 cases have been handled.

"In a people-oriented approach to urban redevelopment, the offering of cash or rehousing compensation to the affected residents must be only the beginning of the story. We have a duty to ensure that the disturbance to their daily life is kept to a minimum," he added.

Social service teams are trained to tailor their help to meet the specific needs of the residents. Whilst personal counselling is always important to reduce mental stress, practical assistance is also provided in all sorts of ways such as home searching, application for mortgage, house removal and decoration. At times, the more unconventional ways of helping them could involve locating long missing relatives, family re-union, caring for pets and even baby-sitting.

The Salvation Army has a long and proven record of assisting residents affected by redevelopment projects. Since 2002, The Salvation Army has set up a social service team to render assistance to needy individuals and families affected by redevelopment projects in Tai Kok Tsui.  Whilst the appointment of The Salvation Army is from the URA, the team is nevertheless expected to operate independently and take the care and well-being of the affected residents as its first mandate.

Earlier, the URA has invited submissions from 25 non-government organisations which expressed an interest in operating an urban renewal social service team in Sham Shui Po. The appointment is for a two-year term, which was scrutinized and approved by the Community Affairs and Public Relations Committee under the URA Board.
The address of the social service team of The Salvation Amy in Sham Shui Po is G/F., 140 Yee Kuk Street. Residents can also contact them by 3586 3094.

In addition to the two social service teams of The Salvation Army, there are two more social service teams appointed by the URA that are still in operation. They are respectively operated by the Methodist Centre and St James' Settlement, serving residents affected by redevelopment projects in Wan Chai and Central and Western district.