Christian Action Appeals to Social Welfare Department
To Retain New Horizons Building

To appeal for government’s reconsideration in demolishing New Horizons Building (NHB), headquarters and main service and training centre of Christian Action (CA) for over 30 years, a petition letter was handed to a Social Welfare Department representative today (24 January 2017).

The NHB and nearby area along Wang Chiu Road is included in Hong Kong government’s redevelopment plan for the Kowloon East district. Currently under Planning Department’s consultation, once the plan is confirmed, the area will be redeveloped for public housing and a new secondary school; consequently NHB will be demolished and CA will have to move. To the organisation, this is an undeniably critical time.

On 10 January CA handed in over 1,000 signed appeal letters and cards collected from service users, corporate clients, partners and staff, along with a petition letter, to the Kwun Tong District Council with one clear request: to retain NHB so that CA can continue providing services for the Kowloon East community. During the consultation of the development plan, many district councillors have recognised CA’s 30 years of history in providing social and training services for the Kwun Tong district at the meeting, urging the government to carefully consider its decision on CA’s move.

CA’s Executive Director, Mrs. Cheung-Ang Siew Mei stated, “For over 30 years, CA has dedicated to fill the service gaps, under no recurrent subvention from the government, for the most vulnerable communities that are otherwise neglected by society. The demolition of NHB will cause a major disruption to our social services, where our service users will be the most affected. This may pose a further impact to the social welfare, leading to more issues such as rising unemployment in the grassroots community. With the petition today we urge the government to reconsider retaining NHB, so that we can continue to fill the service gaps for existing and new residents in Kowloon East.”

NHB has been rented by CA under Short Term Tenancy (STT) as an “O” site (“Open Space” zone) for over 30 years. Since acknowledging the government’s intention in 2014, CA has been communicating with government parties to find the most appropriate solution with the least disruption on social services. However, little satisfactory progress has been made except for the recent notice from Labour and Welfare Bureau to extend CA’s lease at NHB from March this year until 30 June 2018.

Cheung added, “To clarify, we are not opposed to public housing development. While we fully recognise the needs in developing public housing, we urge the government to consider fulfilling social service needs within the district – especially for the incoming grassroots community that will come with the new housing development.” CA believes that public housing and secondary school can be built and coexist with NHB in the same area. Along with the petition letter, the organisation submitted a few proposals of site reconfiguration for the Government and concerned parties to consider, so that even with public housing plan in progress, CA can continue its services.

Established in 1985, CA is a non-government subvented organisation providing pioneering social, humanitarian services, education and training for the disadvantaged, benefitting refugees, underprivileged women and children, low-income families, ethnic minorities, new arrivals, and migrant domestic workers. Over 1 million attendances have benefited from CA’s services in 30 years.

As a headquarter, NHB is a pillar for the coordination of CA’s 20 social service and training centres and 5 community sales outlets across Kowloon and New Territories. Opening beyond normal office hours, the services provided at NHB include Youth Employment Training Programme (YETP), after-school children care, weekend training for foreign domestic workers, community services and employment assistance for ethnic minorities, adventure and whole-person development programme, thematic trial workshop, counselling and other community services such as an information and cyber centre open to neighbours, including women and elderly from grassroots community. NHB is also a major retraining centre, providing a spectrum of courses catered for the different needs, abilities and interests of people from Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, and Kowloon City districts, and to equip them to re-enter the work force. 23,000 received training since 1993, among which 45% were trained at NHB. CA also operates an outlet shop at the premise to cycle and sell usable second-hand items with an aim to give nearby residents with more choices of quality items at an affordable price, and also to offer job opportunities for the residents in Kwun Tong. Over 60,000 attendances are served at NHB per year.

Photos & captions:

CA KTSW24012017 1 Photo 1 To gain support from the Kwun Tong District Social Services Committee, Executive Director Cheung-Ang Siew Mei (second-right), representative (second-left) and service users from CA handed in a petition letter to committee chairman, Mr. Cliff Tang.
CA KTSW24012017 2 Photo 2 CA’s Executive Director Cheung-Ang Siew Mei (right) and a CA representative (left) submitted a petition letter to Ms. Grace Chan from Kwun Tong District Social Welfare Office, Social Welfare Department, to appeal for government’s reconsideration in NHB’s demolition, and to allow CA’s continuation of social services for the underprivileged in the Kwun Tong district.
You are here: Home Home Christian Action Uncategorised PR_NHBKTDCSSC201701