“Families are the essential component units in our society. Families help to shape our lives, nurture our growth, and support us to become our better selves,” said Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education, in his opening speech at the TOUCH Family Conference 2022, held earlier in June.
For the second year running, the 2-day conference saw over 400 participants joining on-site and online. It built on concepts of family stressors, family resilience, family social capital and assets, and included topics at the heart of every family.
With one keynote address, two keynote panel discussions and 12 breakout sessions, the conference saw a great exchange of conversations and ideas.
Co-creating solutions with communities
Social issues are complex and new gaps are constantly emerging.
“At TOUCH, we believe that community solutions must be designed and implemented well – by the community, for the community – in order for them to be effective,” shared Mr James Tan, Chief Executive Officer, TOUCH Community Services.
He was speaking in relation to the keynote panel discussion on 'Co-creating Solutions with Communities', comprising Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education; Dr Carol Soon, Senior Research Fellow & Head of Society and Culture Department, Institute of Policy Studies; Ms Tan Li San, Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Social Service; and Ms Tham Hui Hui, SOAR Mentor, TOUCH Community Services.
Stakeholders need to synergise their efforts and collaborate to achieve the shared goals set out. Only by doing so can we truly develop solutions that address the issues on the ground and cater to the needs of the community.
One such example is the launch of ‘The Pebble Walk’, a community feature of Mental Health-Friendly Neighbourhoods. Together with partners such as the National Council of Social Service and Tanjong Pagar GRC, ‘The Pebble Walk’ symbolises the journey of support for persons with mental health conditions in the community, in support of ‘Beyond the Label’ – a movement to fight stigma towards persons with mental health conditions.
Showcasing the work of TOUCH with the community
Participants were encouraged to visit the mental wellness booth to leave encouraging messages on pebbles that will pave the way for ‘The Pebble Walk’. There were also three other booths which showcased the work of TOUCH with the community. The Aptitude x Dutch Colony booth saw students from ITE College Central putting their barista skills to the test. ‘My Favourite Days’ Augmented Reality storybook was a community co-creation with partners from Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, Meta and MeshMinds. The JOURNEY booth showcased the work of special artists, who will get an opportunity to earn an income from the sale of their art prints.
Envisioning the Future of Social Services
The keynote panel discussion on the second day saw panellists 'Envisioning the Future of Social Services' and sharing how the sector may future-ready itself to stay relevant and maximise the impact of our work.
The panel comprised Ms Junie Foo, Chief Executive Officer, Methodist Welfare Services; Mr Martin Tan, Chief Executive Officer, The Majurity Trust; and Mr Tan Kwang Cheak, Chief Executive Officer, Agency for Integrated Care and was moderated by Mr James Tan, Chief Executive Officer, TOUCH Community Services.
A vibrant discussion was conducted to understand the “Whys” and “Hows” behind the changing needs of the social service sector. With a better understanding of that, the sector will be able to actively navigate changes and challenges rather than react to them.
Special guest, Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development, attended the conference and shared, “The government is just one part of the equation, one part of the solution, in dealing with the complex challenges faced. The community is also part of the equation and social service agencies are the key that will unlock synergies and potential in Singapore across the different sectors that we have.”
Understanding what works for quality programmes
In her keynote address on ‘What works? Quality evidence for quality programmes’, Dr Robyn Mildon, Executive Director, Centre for Evidence and Implementation said, “We cannot benefit from something we do not receive. The use of evidence and implementation science in practice and policy has been motivated in trying to bridge the know-do gap and accelerate the use of evidence.”
Dr Mildon shared that the formula for improved outcomes requires effective practices and implementation and enabled in the right context. She also talked about practical handles and concepts for social service practitioners who are facilitating social change.
As Minister Chan said, “We will distinguish ourselves as a nation because we will always come together cohesively, and in unity to overcome any challenges that we may face.”
Thank you to all participants, speakers and panellists of the TOUCH Family Conference 2022! We hope that the conference has facilitated conversations and collaborations towards the goal of enabling strong families!