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

Positively Transforming
Singapore’s Social Needs

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The Social Service Scholarship presents its scholars with more than just a career – it offers them the opportunity to empower lives. Social Service Scholar Alvin Mak offers us his insights into the ideal qualities of a Social Worker.

The National Council for Social Service (NCSS) is the main leader and coordinator of the social service sector in Singapore. It ensures every person – regardless of their background – has the opportunity to live a life with dignity and one that allows them to realise their fullest potential in society.

To ensure that Singapore’s social needs are well taken care of by individuals who are committed to serve their fellow Singaporeans, NCSS offers the Social Service Scholarship to these passionate individuals who possess exceptional leadership qualities, so as to support them as they drive social change in Singapore. Scholars upon graduation will be emplaced in a Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO).

26-year-old Alvin Mak is one such exceptional individual. He has always been keen on a career in the social service sector and he now recounts how the scholarship opened his doors to a rewarding career as a Social Worker at a Family Service Centre.

Humble beginnings

Growing up, Alvin faced difficult periods in his life along the way but he counts himself fortunate to be surrounded by people who have warmly helped and encouraged him.

NCSS candidate

Alvin Mak Hoi Kit
Social Service Scholar

Designation: Social Worker

Studied: Bachelor of Social Sciences
(Honours) in Social Work,
National University of Singapore

Being on the receiving end of such affectionate gestures sowed the seeds of his interest in the field, and, given his preference towards community-based social work, the Social Service Scholarship was the most natural choice in facilitating his education and future career.

He says cheerfully, “During my undergraduate days, I had the opportunity to attend an exchange programme with the University of British Columbia, Canada’s School of Social Work. It was there that I gained a better understanding of how social work is carried out in a wholly different cultural context. The entire experience broadened my horizons.

“I appreciate that I managed to gain insights into the field through my lecturers and receive cherished advice derived from their years of experience. This is something that University textbooks or lecture notes can never offer!”

A dynamic environment

Alvin’s scholarship journey has indeed well-prepared him for an environment where there is no typical day in the life of a Social Worker.

After all, every single client enters his office with a unique set of issues and circumstances that require special attention. According to Alvin, it is important for Social Workers to take time in building good rapport and a therapeutic relationship with each of them. Once established, these relationships can present meaningful engagements that will bring out the best of both parties.

Alvin shares, “Personally, I like the dynamic nature of our work! We do get curveballs thrown our way when we least expect it but what really matters is how we tackle them strategically for more fruitful outcomes.”

Pillars of support

And as in every job – especially ones dealing with delicate situations – bringing out the best in both parties can often be emotionally challenging for Social Workers like Alvin.

"I appreciate that I managed to gain insights into the field through my lecturers and receive cherished advice derived from their years of experience."

According to him, the resilience to carry on with undaunted optimism is key and Alvin and his colleagues often turn to one another as critical pillars of support. He tells us, “We have developed a habit of pasting encouraging notes on one another’s walls and desks, as a little reminder of the good work we have done. These things keep us motivated.

“I believe working closely to achieve similar end-goals in the social sector has made us more like-minded and empathetic. It is definitely easier for us to lend one another mutual support in tough situations and I am beyond grateful for that!”