Aptly described as professionals with a passion for people, Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) develops the “heartware” for Singapore through its policies, community infrastructure, programmes, and services. Their mission: to nurture resilient individuals, strong families, and a caring society.
Across the different divisions at MSF, there is no shortage of staff who serve with their heart and touch the lives of Singaporeans all around. But it is not just about passion, as 23-year-old Yeo Min shares; it takes a keen awareness of the social landscape and issues, and the desire to seek out effective methods that can effect change.
My scholarship journey so far involves the reviewing of legislation and policies, the development of services and programmes, and building capability within the adult protection sector. My team and I work with agencies both within and outside of the government to strengthen inter-agency processes so that assistance can easily be rendered to adults who may experience abuse or violence. I currently work at a broader level to support the protection of vulnerable adults, which is an exciting and challenging area of work that’s relatively new to Singapore.
Sector Planning & Management Officer
Bachelor of Arts (Social Work)
– Goldsmiths College, University Of London
I’m driven by my desire to support underserved communities. When I started volunteering and working with different service users, the theory of intersectionality became very real. As every client faces unique situation, services need to be designed for a broad category of service users to be efficient. As a result, many users whom I have encountered, fell through the service gaps. I was inspired to join the social service sector so that I am able to assist this group of users. Being inspired, however, is not enough to bring about substantial change to people’s lives. That’s why I chose to pursue a degree in social work, as it covers multi-disciplinary areas of knowledge. From the ethics and values behind the profession, to the more practical skills of communicating and connecting with people.
I appreciate being given the opportunity to meet like-minded peers, colleagues, and mentors throughout my scholarship journey. It has been amazing studying alongside fellow scholars, working with colleagues who support my growth and development, and having mentors who guide me along the way.
I was also able to present my research paper on empathy within the context of Singapore at an international conference held in Japan in 2017. It was an inter-disciplinary social science conference, where I got to meet academics working to create positive change in their fields. I also had the opportunity to intern with the Family Development Group, where I conducted research on mental capacity legislation in overseas jurisdictions. This internship helped me gain a deeper understanding of the legal and ethical implications that mental capacity laws (and similar guardianship laws) had on individuals with an impairment of the mind, as well as their families.
The best moments at work have been the opportunities to work with professionals from different backgrounds. It is always interesting to bounce off ideas with different professionals. For instance, at my recent Family Violence Working Group retreat, the police shared their perspective on cases of alleged family violence and their thresholds for a criminal case. This was helpful for social workers, as we work closely with the police in protecting families, yet with slightly different functions and duties.
I also enjoy the ongoing learning and training opportunities that are offered as part of my work. The division has engaged various overseas experts to train us in adult protection work, which have been relevant and helpful for my personal development. It is also interesting to learn alongside colleagues as they share relevant experiences and case examples that help us contextualise theories and research from overseas.
Consider this scholarship if you enjoy caring for people. MSF is a people-centric organisation, and our clients are at the heart of every task we do. Be it casework or policy work, we aim to improve outcomes for our clients.
You can develop your talent to the fullest as you contribute to the development of Singapore’s society. You will have opportunities in developing, reviewing and implementing national policies to support vulnerable groups, building an inclusive society and strengthening the people sector.
My advice for aspiring scholars: Those who join the social service sector often have a good idea about the communities they wish to serve. This scholarship is a good opportunity for you to do so, but ultimately, it is only one of many ways for you to serve.
It is helpful to intern with the relevant sector before you apply for a scholarship, because it allows you to experience the kind of work you will be doing, the people you will work with, and also connect with seniors in the same field.
For those of you who eventually take up a scholarship, actively take on the opportunities for your own learning and professional development. Remember that being a scholar is a privilege – one that we should acknowledge and make the most of, to serve and give back to the people.