DSW visits the needy during cold weather to show care and concern (with photos)

     As the air temperature is expected to fall to 11 degrees Celsius in Hong Kong's urban areas tomorrow, the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip, today (December 3) visited single elderly persons and street sleepers in Sham Shui Po to distribute warm items and remind them to take extra care during the sudden cold spell. She also reminded them to approach the Social Welfare Department (SWD) or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for assistance whenever they are in need.

     The SWD and NGOs are standing ready to render assistance to the disadvantaged now that winter has arrived. Earlier this week, the SWD requested all district service units to contact people in special circumstances, such as single elderly persons and chronically ill patients, and to provide appropriate support for them if necessary. At the same time, the Integrated Services Teams for Street Sleepers (ISTs) are also stepping up their outreach efforts to render short term accommodation and tangible assistance as required to street sleepers.

     Ms Yip and social workers first visited two single elderly persons living in Wing Cheong Estate to learn more about their needs during cold weather. Ms Tsui, 81 years old, and 74-year-old Ms Ma are currently receiving elderly support services from the District Elderly Community Centre (DECC), including regular home visits and escort services. Ms Yip chatted with the two seniors and presented them with gift packs, adding that she hoped they would take good care of themselves in the cold weather. Ms Yip also introduced other information on elderly services and health care during cold weather to enhance their knowledge of the welfare services available in the neighbourhood.

     Ms Yip said,"During cold weather, the SWD will request Support Teams for the Elderly (STEs) attached to the 41 DECCs in the territory and district elderly service units to remind elderly persons through phone calls about weather changes and relevant winter precautions measures. They will also proactively approach and follow up with single elderly persons and provide essential warm items according to individual needs. In addition to blankets provided by SWD headquarters for emergency relief, district social welfare offices will also utilise resources obtained from NGO welfare units, community organisations and local donors (quilts, winter clothes, scarf, hats and gloves, etc) to support needy elderly persons in the district during the cold spell."

     Assisted by various outreach services and district social networks, the STEs and 119 Neighbourhood Elderly Centres (NECs) will locate potential elderly service users to render assistance and show concern, thus helping them to continue living in the community, she added.

     In 2014-15, the Government granted some $82.5 million in additional subvention to 51 Social Centres for the Elderly to upgrade their standard of services to that of NECs and strengthen support for single elderly persons. It is anticipated that from October this year till March next year, over 5 000 winter care programmes will be operated in various districts, benefiting some 34 000 elderly people.

     Ms Yip later joined social workers from ISTs and volunteers to help distribute blankets among street sleepers in the vicinity of Tung Chau Street Temporary Market. She also chatted with some of the street sleepers and explained the support services available to them, including emergency and short term accommodation, counselling and employment support services.

     "We have prepared sufficient blankets for distribution among street sleepers during the cold weather. District social welfare offices and NGOs can also mobilise local resources to purchase winter items to show extra care and support for needy street sleepers during the cold spell. Last year, the three ISTs in Hong Kong visited some 500 street sleepers to provide tangible assistance and help them give up street sleeping," she said.

     Ms Yip added that the SWD will closely monitor the service needs of the disadvantaged and take appropriate measures to strengthen support for street sleepers, needy elderly persons and chronically ill patients. She encouraged members of the public to show concern and care for relatives and neighbouring elderly persons, especially those who are living alone so as to cultivate a culture of care and mutual help in the community. Anyone in need can call the SWD Hotline at 2343 2255 for assistance.

Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:35