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SLW visits Youth Outreach and meets young night drifters (with photos)

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, visited the headquarters of Youth Outreach (YO) in Sai Wan Ho last night (August 21) and joined an overnight outreach team visiting Tin Shui Wai in the small hours this morning (August 22) to see for himself the outreach social work service provided by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to at-risk young people.

     Accompanied by YO's President, Ms Au King-chi; Executive Committee Member Ms Leonie Ki; and the Executive Director, Dr Peter Newbery, Mr Cheung had a discussion with the Executive Committee members. He also toured YO's facilities and was briefed on its work including residential and counselling services, youth development work and outreach service. Also joining the visit were the Director of Social Welfare, Ms Carol Yip, and the Assistant Director (Youth and Corrections), Mr Peter Ng.

     Mr Cheung noted that the crisis residential and probation hostel services of the organisation are run under government subvention mode, while most other services are supported by various public or private funds as well as private donations. He said he was pleased to know that YO was recently granted more than $16 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to launch a four-year project entitled "Development Centre for Positive Youth Culture", which aims at helping at-risk youths to enhance self-confidence and develop positive thinking and at the same time provides job opportunities for them.

     Mr Cheung pointed out that the Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) was set up for the very purpose of promoting collaboration among the community, the business sector and the Government in support of the disadvantaged. Recently, the Government injected $400 million into the Fund. Half of this sum is in the form of a dedicated fund with matching grants for donations made by business organisations to encourage welfare NGOs and schools to launch more after-school learning and support programmes to facilitate the whole-person development of primary and secondary students from grass-roots families. More than 1 million disadvantaged persons have benefitted under the Fund in past 10 years. He said he was glad to note that YO is one of the Fund's collaborating partners.

     Mr Cheung was briefed by the leader of YO's overnight outreach team on the team's outreach work in various districts. Mr Cheung also joined the team for a late night visit to some common gathering spots for night drifters in Tin Shui Wai, where he chatted with some youngsters to understand more about their background and needs.

     Mr Cheung stressed that the Government attaches great importance to youth development and is committed to protecting the well-being of young people. He noted that the SWD has been subventing various NGOs in the provision of timely counselling, support and guidance to vulnerable youths aged between 6 and 24, in particular youth gangsters and night drifters. There are currently 19 youth outreach teams and 18 outreach teams for young night drifters, providing services to vulnerable young people and those at risk.

     The visit ended at 2am today. Mr Cheung paid tribute to the social workers of the overnight outreach team for providing cross-district professional service over the years. He encouraged them to continue their hard work to help more vulnerable young people return to the right track.

Ends/Saturday, August 22, 2015
Issued at HKT 07:12


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