20 awarded MSF's inaugural Social Service Fellowship

Mr Abhimanyau Pal, 50, executive director of SPD (formerly Society for the Physically Disabled), was awarded the inaugural Social Service Fellowship on Nov 25, 2016.
Mr Abhimanyau Pal, 50, executive director of SPD (formerly Society for the Physically Disabled), was awarded the inaugural Social Service Fellowship on Nov 25, 2016.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Twenty individuals were recognised for their contributions to the social service yesterday and awarded the inaugural Social Service Fellowship.

Selected by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the pool of fellows are made up of experienced social service professionals with at least 10 years of related experience.

As part of the fellowship, the 20 will, on top of their current roles in their respective jobs, sit as subject matter experts on panels and committees set up by MSF or the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). The fellows are appointed for a three-year term and will receive a service recognition allowance of $12,000 a year.

One of this year's fellows is Mr Abhimanyau Pal, 50, who has spent 23 years in the social service sector.

Mr Pal, who is executive director of SPD (formerly Society for the Physically Disabled) and is a trained therapist, is now also a mentor on the Sun Ray career scheme set up by NCSS to develop manpower in the sector.

Mr Pal started his social service career at AWWA School as a therapist for students with special needs. Then, he moved to SPD, the Ministry of Health, before returning to SPD.

He said one of his most significant moments in the sector was when he bumped into a former AWWA student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and saw that he had a regular life, and a girlfriend. The boy had brittle bone disease was put into AWWA School at seven. But Mr Pal felt that despite his physical disability, he could still function in a mainstream school. So together with his colleagues, they convinced a primary school principal to take him in.

Seeing the impact of his work keeps him in the industry, said Mr Pal. "It's constantly evolving, there's no lack of challenges and I like challenges," he said.

Other fellows include psychologist Porsche Poh, who is executive director of Silver Ribbons, and Ms June Tham, who is a teacher for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development, said the fellows serve as role models for younger professionals.

"I encourage fellows to take the initiative to work with one another and to bridge professionals, organisations and even sectors, as collaboration is a key enabler to improving service delivery and standards," said Mr Tan.