From Science to Social Work

TOUCH Family Enablement

From Science to Social Work

Goh Fong Yin is a Senior Social Worker at TOUCH Family Enablement. When she was in her schooling years, she would always involve herself in volunteer work, and always found joy in doing so.

After graduating from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Chemistry, Fong Yin started looking for a job in the social service sector to pursue her passion but her application was turned down time and time again.

“After failing to secure a job in the social service sector, I started looking for a job related to my field of study and was eventually hired as a quality control engineer. After all, I went into Chemistry as I had always liked the Sciences and always did well in it.”

Although these two industries are miles apart, Fong Yin was not totally distant from doing social work, as she was actively volunteering in humanitarian trips and mentoring foreign students during her time in the engineering industry.

After working as a quality control engineer for a number of years, Fong Yin decided to follow her passion and pursued a Graduate Diploma in Social Work. She left her engineering career and got a job at Pathlight School, as she was looking to gain experience with children while doing her Diploma.

Fong Yin finally joined TOUCH in March 2008, after graduating with her Graduate Diploma in Social Work.

“In my first seven and a half years at TOUCH, I worked with at-risk children in primary schools and also with their parents to address matters like absenteeism from school, anger management and other behavioural, relational and emotional issues. For the past one and a half years, I’ve been working with low-income families in the HOPE programme,” Fong Yin mentions. The HOPE programme is a scheme by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, aiding the young, low income families, so there can be a better future for their families.

She finds her job as a social worker particularly rewarding when she is able to build rapport with her clients and their families, and to engage them holistically while working on their issues.

“It is very fulfilling when I see mothers making small steps of progress and breakthroughs, being able to cope better in their lives - emotionally and financially – and also having better relationships with their children.”

Being at TOUCH for nine years now, Fong Yin has had her fair share of ups and downs. One of the most memorable experiences she’s had was when she had the chance to do a video recording of her client and the client’s son where they shared how TOUCH’s parenting programme had benefitted them greatly.

“It was encouraging to hear them share about how their communication had improved, and how the client can accept and relate to her son better after conscientiously applying the communication and parenting skills she learnt from our parenting programme. Her son had become more receptive towards her, and I was really happy to see their relationship restored.”

A prevalent challenge Fong Yin faces in her job is when clients lack the motivation to work on their issues, or are not ready for change.

“Sometimes, families may also face multiple issues such as addictions or health problems, which make it difficult for them to work on their goals as well,” she adds.

Another challenge that Fong Yin faces is a lack of home-based job opportunities for clients who are unable to go out to work due to various limitations like health problems. Fong Yin mentions that this translates to a challenge as it is important for her to help her clients find their footing – to find jobs so they can slowly become more independent.

However, even amidst all the challenges, Fong Yin still presses on with faith, and continues to keep positive and joyful.

“I have been very blessed to have the right doors opening at the right time for me, and everything was so timely in my journey towards entering the social service industry, right from attaining my graduate diploma.”

TOUCH Family Enablement (TFE) extends a helping hand to individuals and families in distress or in need with the aim to help them be self-reliant in their daily living. TFE’s services include financial assistance for low-income families in distress under the short-term financial schemes, and consultation on financial budgeting. TFE provides counselling on matters relating to pre-marital/marital life, parenting woes, challenges facing children/youths, domestic violence, emotional and mental distress and management of interpersonal relationships. TFE also conducts training workshops to raise professionalism in the social service sector, and organises developmental and supportive programmes for disadvantaged families.