Ministry of Civil Affairs and Li Ka Shing Foundation
develop network to support social workers and capacity building
(June 17, 2014, Qingdao) As of 2013, China’s migrant population numbered 276 million. There were also over 200 million elderly people aged 60 or over, 157 million left-behind elderly, women, and children, 16 million people with serious mental illnesses, one million families that have lost their single child, and 80 million low-income workers. These statistics reveal the hard truths facing social workers — that the impact of the government’s efforts is limited at best without a systematic support network.
Total donation of RMB 38 million
In early 2014, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Li Ka Shing Foundation teamed up to launch “March for Compassion” — a new initiative to provide social work services and to build capacity in the field of social work. The programme sponsors projects implemented by professional social workers to benefit disadvantaged groups such as migrant population, left-behind rural villagers, and other special needs groups, and increases social capacity through the development of a professional social support network. The Foundation has contributed RMB 20 million to fund projects, community education, professional training, and policy research. The contribution has also garnered RMB 18.55 million in matching funds from provincial and municipal Governments.
A total of 470 project applications was received between February 10 and March 10, 2014. Following a screening process conducted by experts, 110 projects have been approved for funding, of which 20 are major projects with a high social impact, while the remaining 90 focus on smaller, more innovative programmes. The results were announced on the MoCA and Social Work websites on May 13, and the projects will be carried out from July 2014 to December 2015. March for Compassion has attracted 110 service organisations to participate and will benefit over one million people in over 29 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
Programme kicked off in Qingdao
The MoCA, Foundation, provincial and municipal officials, and programme organisers met in Qingdao in Shandong Province on June 17 to discuss the launch and implementation of the programme, development of training courses on professional social work, and to visit social work organisations. March for Compassion builds and sustains trust between the people and professional social workers, builds service capacity, and promotes greater exchanges between the public and the government to formulate better support policies.
“I was delighted that several years ago we initiated a charitable platform encouraging broad-based participation through action to help improve our communities. Today, we collaborate with the Ministry of Civil Affairs by combining our resources and our collective wisdom to create a caring and compassionate society. With the momentum generated by the ‘March for Compassion’ I am sure it will inspire hope for underserved populations and social change for the better,” said Mr Li Ka-shing, Chairman of the Foundation.
Gong Puguang, Vice-Minister of MoCA, who will serve as head of the project committee for March for Compassion, said, “The determination of the Foundation to work with MoCA on this Social Work Service Capacity Building Programme reflects the Foundation’s generosity, vision and innovative spirit. MoCA and the Foundation will work together to create a model social work programme with high standards and high quality that can be replicated nationwide to ensure that the compassion of social workers can be fully translated into real benefits for underserved populations.”