Professor Johnston Hong-Chung WONG talks of social work in mainland China and Hong Kong as well as an organisation he co-founded —Social Workers Without Borders.
Johnston Wong, Professor in Social Work and Social Administration, started his career as a youth worker in Hong Kong. His early academic interests focused on youth and family work, branching out to psychological stress, unemployment and industrial social work. In Hong Kong he participated in various district and central government committees related to youth policies, education, social care and hospital governance. Since 2005 he was involved in many post disasters social work interventions and become the non-executive director of the Social Workers Without Borders. http://www.socialworkerswithoutborders.org In 2006 he joined UIC as a Faculty member and helped to design the Service Learning Scheme and Emotional Intelligence Programs as parts of Whole Person Education. Later he was appointed as the Chief of Student Affairs. He taught many courses like Social Work and Chinese Laws, Disaster and Emergency Management, Healthcare Social Work, Social Group Work and Crisis Interventions.
Social Workers Without Borders is a post-disaster humanitarian care organization, currently working in Greater China, especially the Mainland, and is committed to providing spiritual reconstruction and development of social work projects for post-disaster residents. Regardless of politics, race, religion or nationality, we are mainly professional social workers, uphold the belief that love knows no borders, provide professional voluntary services, and provide emotional and mental health support and spiritual reconstruction services for families and individuals in disasters or difficulties.
Quote from Social Workers Without Borders who specialise in disaster management in China.
“On December 26, 2004, there was a terrifying tsunami in South Asia. This natural disaster strongly shook the hearts of everyone on the planet. As a social worker, besides giving financial support, can I do one more step? We hope to provide professional social work services locally. Therefore, a group of aspiring social workers immediately formed “Social Workers Without Borders”. On January 6, 2005, five social workers and one teacher were dispatched to shoulder the mission of “Social Workers Without Borders”. Local victims in need provide professional services and convey our care. After a year of service and hard work, we became a registered tax-exempt charity on February 2, 2006.”
As early as 22 January, SWSA Professor and Chief Student Affairs Officer, Prof Johnston Hong-Chung Wong, proposed that social workers take actions in a WeChat article of the Social Workers Across Borders account.
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Sonya Chowdhury is the Chief Executive of UK Charity Action for M.E., working with children, families and adults affected by the neurological condition M.E.; a role served since September 2012.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) affects 250,000 people in the U.K., significantly impacting lives and not just their health. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding and awareness means men, women, and children experience the same disbelief. Some even experience discrimination from friends, family, health and social professionals, teachers and employers.
Sonya took over as Chief Executive when there was great despair in the community from patients of all ages and their parents desperate for support following years of stigma and disbelief. On first impression, Sonya saw it her role to make Action for M.E. a charity that could drive real change. Fast forward to the review of existing activities and a reset containing bold and ambitious plans of change. A strategy focused on increasing transparency and clarity, seeking a collaborative working culture with stakeholders at every level.
Sonya stands by the statement she made at her appointment:”People with M.E. are at the heart of everything we do. Our purpose is to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect experienced by people with M.E. We do this by meeting needs now while securing change for the future. Everything we do is in service of achieving three goals, which we call our strategic touchstones, to tackle these challenges: IMPROVE the lives of people with M.E., INSPIRE action at all levels, and INVEST in change.”
In making bold decisions at the appointment, Sonya was able to drive the charity forward in support and ground-breaking biomedical research to not just offer patients with M.E. support but most recently support for those living with Long Covid. It is reported that over 200million are living with the effects of Coronavirus mirroring symptoms, M.E. patients have described for years. The parallels are highlighted through the charity reporting a 30% increase in enquiries for information and often urgent support after Long Covid and M.E. patients were also unable to access vital services.
Sonya was named in the top 100 most influential women in the West, 2018 and has devoted her career to improving the lives of children and adults’ lives while working to secure change for the future. Sonya started her career in statutory social work. Sonya worked in senior management roles for leading children’s charity Barnardo’s. She was Head of Business Support two days a week and National Lead for the Family Strategic Partnership for the remaining three. In addition, Sonya co-pioneered the ‘Innovating Futures’ programme, which used a newly-created business generation model to help advance the practice of voluntary sector leaders. Sonya also chairs the Management and PPI Groups for DecodeME, the world’s most extensive M.E. /CFS DNA study launched in June 2020.
You can follow Sonya on social media: https://twitter.com/SonyaChowdhury
Visit Action for ME today: https://www.actionforme.org.uk
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Aagje Ieven is Secretary General at Missing Children Europe www.missingchildreneurope.eu , where sheis responsible for the strategic development and day-to-day management of the organization.Aagje has a background in Health (Bachelor, Leuven 1998) and Political Philosophy (Master, Leuven, and Nijmegen, 2002). She has close to twenty years of experience in research and policy analysis on human rights in Europe and has worked for a number of EU civil society organisations advocating for the rights and wellbeing of children and their families. She coordinated a campaign for the rights of children in vulnerable situations and managed a European membership network supporting families affected by mental health issues. At Missing Children Europe she established a research and training programme on runaways, the largest category of missing children, and led the advocacy on the new EU Child Rights
Currently Secretary General at Missing Children Europe, Aagje heads the European umbrella organisation for ngo’s working on the issue of missing children. They strive to protect and empower children to prevent them from going missing, and they do this by supporting the professionals in our network with research, training, advocacy and awareness raising. They focus on runaways, children abducted by a parent, and unaccompanied migrant children. They coordinate the network of 116000 missing child hotlines which children and families can call when a child is (at risk of going) missing. They also run a network of cross border family mediators that international families which are separating can contact for support.
At missing children, Aagje is responsible for day-to-day management of the organization and setting out the strategic lines together with the Board.
Her educational background is in Health (Bachelor, Leuven 1998) and Political Philosophy (Master, Leuven, and Nijmegen, 2002). She spend 6 years doing research on human rights in Europe at the University of Leuven and as a Fulbright scholar at Columbia University in New York. After that experience in New York, she decided to embark on a career in EU civil society and led a research project on child health inequalities at EuroHealthNet. Since then she has worked for a number of civil society organisations advocating for the rights and wellbeing of children and their families. At Eurochild, she coordinated a campaign to advocate for deinstitutionalisation and family based care for children. For 2 years, she was SecGen at EUFAMI, another European membership network supporting families caring for family members with severe mental health issues.
Aagje joined Missing Children Europe almost three years ago, and have since then established their research and training programme on runaways, called RADAR, have established child participation in the organisation, have led our advocacy on the new EU Child Rights Strategy, and is currently working on their new four year strategy 2022-2025.
Research conducted as part of the INCLUDE project shows that overlooking children in international abduction cases leads to feelings of helplessness and anxiety.They work with professionals who assist missing children, children at risk of going missing and their families. MCE supports them to better protect and empower children through research, training, advocacy, and awareness, facilitating exchange and cross-border cooperation. They coordinate the network of 116000 missing children hotlines, and the Cross-Border Family Mediators network. In all of these ways it contributes to more effective, holistic and integrated child protection systems across Europe.
Missing Children Europe website where you will find all of our projects and annual reports: https://missingchildreneurope.eu/
International family conflict – families can find Cross Border Family Mediators here: https://crossbordermediator.eu/
Long term missing cases – NotFound application for all website owners: https://notfound.org/en
Children in Migration – Miniila application with info for unaccompanied minors: https://miniila.com/
Children in Migration – Lost in Migration conference for professionals in the field: http://lostinmigration.eu/#page-top
Children in Migration – Tiny and Apollo campaign to start a different conversation on migration: https://www.tinyandapollo.com/
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