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icon Why We Exist

Social service plays an integral role in society. It is a profession that helps ensure the needs of the disadvantaged are heard and addressed, thus improving the well-being of people within the community.

In Singapore, social service has played a significant role since the country’s independence. Today, over 470 Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) are registered with the National Council for Social Services (NCSS), providing all forms of help and support to the various groups in the community. While there are numerous bespoke programmes and initiatives for various communities such as the elderly, the disabled, low-income families and youths-at-risk, there is a lack of strong research and evidence-based approaches to drive the evaluation of existing programmes and to initiate and test new and innovative solutions.

To address this gap in social intervention research, the Social Service Research Centre (SSR) in the National University of Singapore (NUS) was launched in April 2015.

First Research Centre in Singapore Dedicated to Social Intervention Research

The Centre, first of its kind in Singapore dedicated to social service research, aims to bring together resources and ideas to promote social innovations, and help evolve a new social service infrastructure for Singapore’s next phase of social development. The SSR also organizes seminars and conferences, providing a platform for industry practitioners to exchange ideas and develop solutions on the most pressing social issues. (View our past conferences and seminar series here)

Building a Strong Social Service Infrastructure to Support Singapore’s Next Phase of Social Development

As the nation progresses, social issues will become increasingly complex and multi-faceted. A strong social service infrastructure – where innovative social solutions can be initiated and developed – is necessary to support Singapore’s next phase of social development.

What We Have Achieved

Since its founding in 2015, the SSR has embarked on eight research projects, working in partnership with government agencies and VWOs. These projects span across various areas in the industry, such as:

(i) Enhancing the operational delivery of social services
(ii) Evaluating the utility of existing social services programmes
(iii) Improving social services interventions for various groups, e.g. children and low-income families. (View our past and current research projects
Importantly, the focus is on translational research that has a direct impact in the social service sector.

Close Partnerships with VWOs and Social Service Practitioners to Develop Solutions to Pressing Needs in the Industry

The SSR currently partners with a growing network of more than 150 agencies and 450 social service practitioners. Some of the SSR’s VWO partners include Methodist Welfare Services, Care Corner, South-Central Community Family Service Centre, and Lakeside Family Services. "SSR has offered structured and meaningful mentoring to our FSC's Research team. Because of the advice and support given, our FSC was able to develop new interventions that is evidence based." Cindy Ng, Centre Director, Covenant Family Service Centre.

“The partnership between SSR and SCC brings researcher and practitioner together into a symbiotic relationship that makes for even greater social impact. Our work has been so enriched by our partnership with SSR; on the debt study, research mentoring and hopefully many more meaningful endeavours to come.” Ng Bee Leng, Executive Director, South-Central Community Family Service Centre.

Equipping the Social Service Sector

As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The SSR strongly believes that it is far more impactful to directly equip VWOs and social service practitioners with the knowledge and tools to perform their own empirical evaluations of programmes and to seed new innovative ideas. To that end, the SSR has launched a Research Mentoring Programme, where practitioners initiate projects based on the needs of their respective agencies and are trained and mentored by SSR researchers in developing solutions using evidence-based approaches.

The feedback thus far have been very positive with participants indicating that they gained new perspectives in their work, were enabled to have cross-sector learning and learnt how to integrate research into their programme design. These benefits were over and above the gains of the findings of the research that they had embarked on.

You Can Help Build a Community of Inventive Social Services

The SSR is currently seeking funding to sustain its activities, especially since its seed funding is drawing to a close. Your gift will enable SSR to:

1. Conduct pilot or field studies relating to social service practice and interventions
2. Provide expert inputs to evidence-based practice in the social service sector
3. Develop the research capability in he social service sector by providing training and mentorship to VWOs and social service practitioners

The impact of your gift creates a positive change in society. It builds a strong social service infrastructure for Singapore, where innovative social interventions can be developed to produce better outcomes to meet the evolving social needs of Singapore – which has a direct impact on the quality of life of the disadvantaged.