Care & Support Networking Team
In 2003, SoCO started a pioneering project, the Care and Support Networking Team (CASNET) – to engage former offenders, homeless people, people recovering from mental illness, ethnic minorities, as well as people with special needs living in West Kowloon. By organizing late night outreach and home visits, SoCO identifies and assists those with housing, financial and employment needs.
SoCO’s work with marginalized groups:
- Elimination of age discrimination when the elderly homeless check into NGO hostels.
- Conducted a survey on the needs of returning Hong Kong residents from the mainland in 2006 and 2008, with the results revealing their needs and social welfare policy issues. SoCO also assisted one street sleeper to seek a judicial review against the one-year residency that is required before a welfare application is accepted, and successfully found the rule unconstitutional by the Court of Final Appeal in 2012.
- Constantly conducting Homeless Research to fight for the establishment of the Homeless Policy and the improvement of homeless services.
- A team of street sleepers has been organized every year since 2005 to represent Hong Kong in the Homeless (Football) World Cup.
- Assisted over 20 street sleepers to sue the government for civil claims for their forced eviction and removal of their personal belongings in 2012 and 2016.
- The Government has financed the Watcher Project that serves the homeless people in Shum Shui Po since 2016 for 14 months.
- According to the increase of the reverting to street sleeping and the problem of shortage of places as well as short residential period of urban hostel for single persons, SoCO developed hostel for single persons, “Friend Home” to provide longer residential period project to advocate the government to improve the policy of hostel for the single persons.
People recovering from mental illness:
- The formation of the Mental Health Rights Concern Group and Alliance for advocating mental health policy, where people recovering from mental illnesses are organized to fight for better mental health policies.
- Dedication to improve the social support of people recovering from mental illness who live alone.
- Continued concern with the service quality and control of private residential care homes for people with disabilities.
- Former inmates no longer need to declare their criminal records when applying for government posts.
- Organization of ex-prisoners to fight for equal job opportunities. Voting rights for inmates in jail were instituted after the issue was raised during the 2004 Legislative Council Election. In 2008, SoCO supported a prisoner to take legal action against the government and as a result the courts ruled that inmates have the right to vote while in prison.
- Conduct research on aging ex-prisoners that reflect the difficulties that they face in life after prison, which leads to a cycle of further crime and homelessness.
- Since June 2005, help was extended to inmates prior to their release from Tai Lam Prison.