Children’s Right Project
Children have the right to grow up with equal opportunities
There are over one million children in Hong Kong. About one in four of our children live below the poverty line. Among some 230,000 children who struggle in poverty, 50,000 live in cramped and poor accommodation such as bedspace apartments, cubicles and sub-divided units. Many of them have to collect cardboard boxes after school to earn a living and study and do their homework on their beds.
Children are our future. They grow everyday and are competing with time. We should do our best to help them develop healthily which is crucial to them and to our society.
In 2003, SoCO adopted the philosophy of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely, that every child is entitled to rights without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex. language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. SoCO works on different planes: advocating policies, organizing, providing service and social participation with a view to helping improve the lives of underprivileged children and fighting for opportunities for development.
Do you know …
In the affluent society of Hong Kong there are 230,000 underprivileged children. One in four of our children live below the poverty line.
20 % of children cannot afford three meals a day.
Only 13 % of grassroots youths are able to enter universities.
50,000 children live in very poor accommodation such as bedspace apartments, sub-divided units or roof top huts.
60 % of grassroots children do not seek or delay seeking medical attention due to cost concerns.
We organize underprivileged children to advocate formulation of policies for children development, to appoint an independent statutory Commissioner for Children’s Affairs, to improve policies regarding education, housing, social welfare, health care etc., to urge the Government to set policies from the angle of rights of the child and to provide equal opportunities for development of underprivileged children.
SoCO conducts research and studies regularly on issues relating to children’s needs and policies and make suggestions to Government on improvement. SoCO and children release annual reports by a non-Governmental Commissioner for Children’s Affairs every year. It assesses the performance of the Government in these areas, selects top ten issues of the year which are of the greatest concern to children and urges the Government to improve and follow up.
Outreach social workers visit underprivileged children living in older districts, provide services to them, train them, explore their potential and raise awareness of their rights. In 2003 SoCO set up a concern group on rights of the child with underprivileged children. There are now about 3,000 children members who are under 18 years of age. Members of the group elect an ambassador for rights of the child every year. The group trains children leaders to voice concerns of underprivileged children. The group hosts children’s conferences regularly and has set up sub-groups to focus on different policies. The group has also joined the alliance of non Governmental organizations under the Commission on Children to work with over 20 organizations to fight for rights of children.
Support for Development
Child Mentorship Scheme
SoCO launched the Child Mentorship Scheme (“CMS”) in August 2003. Under the Scheme volunteers with different professional backgrounds are paired with underprivileged children for at least a year. Mentors help mentees broaden their horizons and introduce them to resources of the community. Mentees learn to keep pace with the society and their learning and problem- solving skills are enhanced. Many children benefit from CMS in that their learning ability is improved, self-confidence boosted and horizons broadened. Most importantly, they experience the concerns of the society for them.
During the process, a continuous evaluation and reflection will be conducted on a regular basis. Quarterly meeting will be held to exchange mentors’ opinions. Moreover, mentors are advised to report to the social workers whenever they observe there are any presenting difficulties and needs from the children and their families.
One volunteer (mentor) will be paired up with one child to facilitate better conditions for the child development by the following means:
- Regular home visits or contacts (at least once per week) – e.g. tutorials, emotional support, introducing community resources, etc,.
- Outdoor activities – e.g. recreational activities, countryside walk, visit museums, etc,. (certain mass programmes will be directly organized by SoCO)
- Other useful activities which are suitable for their life exposure and growth.
- Community Learning Centre
SoCO opened its Community Learning Centre in Kwei Lin Street in Sham Shui Po in 2000. The Centre provides free tutorial classes for underprivileged children who can also borrow study material from the Centre. With the continuing support of over 100 volunteers, the Centre is open seven days a week. Every year the Centre provides support to thousands of underprivileged children thereby increasing their learning opportunity and exploring their talent.
A Comprehensive Centre to support alleviation of poverty
With the sponsorship of the Chow Tai Fook Charity Fund (“CTFCF”), SoCO New World Community Centre in Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po was opened in 2012. The Centre provides free, all round and continuing service to grassroots children and their families to alleviate poverty. Services include support for employment of parents, tutorial groups for young children and up to secondary students, remedial classes, foundation courses, classes on English pronunciation, Cambridge English classes and courses on Chinese musical instruments (such as erhu, flute, guzheng, zhongruan, liuqin, yangqin ). Outdoor activities are organized to broaden the horizon and learning experience of children. The Centre provides service for over 10,000 people.
- The Community does care
SoCO has been working with different business sectors since 2003 to provide support services to underprivileged children and their families. By participating in voluntary work in alleviation of poverty employees show their concerns for the underprivileged. This will enhance communication and understanding between rich and poor. Many business concerns have continued to provide their support for underprivileged children for many years.
KPMG was the first company that approached SoCO on its own initiative and has been working with SoCO since 2003. Over the years KPMG staff continue to organize exciting outdoor activities for over 1,000 underprivileged children every year. They also care about the daily needs of children. For example, air conditioning units are donated in the hot summer, they fund deposits for renting of cubicles occupied by underprivileged children and donations of various material are made. 600 children receive surprise Christmas presents from them every year. KPMG sponsored the publication by SoCO of photo albums entitled “Our Treasure” and “Our Treasure II “ in 2004 and 2014 respectively and the related photo exhibitions. In 2007, KPMG sponsored SoCO’s publication of “Our Life in West Kowloon” and a photo exhibition. In 2005 KPMG set up the “KPMG 6Oth anniversary scholarship” to fund tertiary education of underprivileged students. It also provides internship for underprivileged university students. Since 2012 it has continued to provide funding for remedial English classes for young children and up to secondary students.
Since 2006 members of Ladies’ Recreation Club (“LRC”)have been organizing day camps for underprivileged children every year where they can enjoy the facilities of the Club. LRC also donates cash and material to SoCO to support its work to alleviate poverty.
Bloomberg staff have been organizing outdoor activities for underprivileged children since 2007. Since 2013 Bloomberg offers English courses for underprivileged children in their office in Central after office hours. It organizes career guidance lectures and career counselling service to youths. It donates material to underprivileged children. It also matches hours of voluntary service of their staff with donations to SoCO to support its work to alleviate poverty.
Chow Tai Fook Charity Fund started funding the operation of SoCO New World Community Centre in Fuk Wa Street, Sham Shui Po in 2012. The Centre provides comprehensive support to underprivileged children and their families to get out of poverty. Chow Tai Fook staff take part in voluntary services and donate material to underprivileged children and their families.
New World Development has been working with SoCO since 2012 to offer swimming courses and professional basketball training to underprivileged children. It also organizes lectures on parent-child topics as well as outdoor learning activities.
Angels for the children has funded part of the tutorial class and interest class fee, computer, ipad, and Christmas gifts to the underprivileged children since 2018.
In 2019, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Charity Foundation provided financial assistance for ten underprivileged children to participate in interest groups to help develop their potential and interest. Ten underprivileged children variously took up piano and violin lessons, skating, painting, ballet etc. This has enabled them to acquaint themselves with art and music, improve their intellect and develop relevant skills.
Poverty Relief Fund for Children
Through donations in cash and in kind from individuals and corporations, the Fund provides emergency aids, learning and domestic material/services to underprivileged children.