National Council of Social Service (NCSS)
Features | Public Service

Helping Others
Lead Life to the Fullest

The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) dedicates itself to ensuring that every person has the opportunity to live a life of dignity to his or her fullest potential within society. As the lead agency responsible for coordinating the social service sector in Singapore, NCSS is constantly looking for ways to enhance Singapore’s social service infrastructure by expanding membership representations and advocating for emerging social needs, building up capacity through investments in manpower and promoting corporate engagement in the sector.

As a secondary school student, 23-year-old Cherlynn Ang found herself drawn to the idea of making a profession out of helping others. She knew that she wanted to make an impact on the world and rekindle hope in those who were beset by troubles.

NCSS offers the Social Service Scholarship to outstanding individuals with the passion to work with people and the leadership qualities to drive social change. So when she was offered the NCSS Social Service Scholarship, she naturally accepted.

“I like the idea of being able to help others achieve their full potential and live life to its fullest. I also want to make the world a better place to live in and I find a lot of meaning and purpose in doing so,” she shares.

Cherlynn Ang Xueli
Social Service Scholar

Designation: Social Worker

Studied: Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences (Social Work), National University of Singapore

For Cherlynn, to be a social worker is only to be human. Her voice brimming with warmth and candour, she tells us how she finds fulfilment in her work in a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO).

A Varied and Meaningful Experience

As a social worker in a Family Service Centre, Cherlynn works closely with low-income families. She adds, “I am also involved in the Single Mothers’ support group where we hold separate weekly sessions for the mothers and their children for 10 weeks. I even get to have a hand in minding the infants sometimes!

“On a larger scale, I am involved in a recent pilot managed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), which looks at helping vulnerable families overcome systemic barriers. Through this pilot, we hope to advocate for changes on a policy level to help these vulnerable families. This opportunity allows me to share my ideas, but more importantly, it enables me to engage with sector leaders and learn from them. In addition, there are specific trainings on topics such as risk assessments, cultural competencies and chairing case conferences.”

Cherlynn is also quick to highlight that social work is a profession that requires a specialised set of skills and knowledge. She says, smiling, “Many people have the misconception that social workers are volunteers. On the contrary, we need to have a degree in social work in order to practise. It takes more than a kind heart to be a social worker as we utilise evidence-based practices and study theories and models to ensure that our interventions are effective.”

Alleviating Social Issues

As someone who is plugged into the fabric of Singapore’s society, Cherlynn has many insights to share. She elaborates, “One of the trends that I see emerging is an increase in transnational families. This gives rise to a different set of issues, especially if they belong to the lower income brackets and if their foreign spouse is not a professional. This in turn hinders their ability to apply for Permanent Residency, which can have many repercussions on the family.

"Many people have the misconception that social workers are volunteers. It takes more than a kind heart to be a social worker as we utilise evidence-based practices and study theories and models to ensure that our interventions are effective.”

“I also often see many families experiencing deep-rooted poverty for generations. These families often struggle with multiple issues such as incarceration, drug abuse and marital breakdowns.”

But as is often the case, greater travails often result in even greater satisfaction when they are overcome. Cherlynn enthuses, “I derive great fulfilment from knowing that I am helping these families to grow more resilient and have empowered them to break out of their inter-generational poverty cycles. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing that the next generations will be able to enjoy the same opportunities as their peers in pursuing their own hopes and dreams!”

An Agent of Change

Moving forward, Cherlynn hopes to continue to be an agent of change and a strong advocate of vulnerable families and the marginalised.

“At the heart of it all, our interventions help families build the resilience to face life’s challenges. And it may seem ironic, but I hope for the day when social workers can retire as a profession!” she laughs.