In light of Helper Appreciation Month in May and International Domestic Workers Day in June, we’re spotlighting HELP for Domestic Workers — who ensure migrant domestic workers receive access to justice through rights education, advice and assistance.
Migrant domestic workers play an integral part in our city and are the backbone of many families, not just in Hong Kong, but around the world. In celebration of their invaluable contribution, Helper Appreciation Month and International Domestic Workers Day, we’re spotlighting HELP for Domestic Workers, a local charity that supports migrant domestic workers through rights education, advice and assistance.
The domestic worker community remained one of the most vulnerable amid the pandemic, with many of them facing sudden job loss, pay cuts and delays in starting new employment contracts, so it’s imperative for us to give support where we can. Ahead, Avril Rodrigues, Head of Communications at HELP, shares why the charity was founded, what it does to support the city’s migrant domestic workers, and how we can get support its cause.
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Tell us about HELP.
We were founded by Barrister James Collins in 1989 in response to the acute need for migrant domestic workers to receive access to justice through rights education, advice and assistance. The resources provided by HELP grew in lockstep with the exponential growth in the demand for our services.
As Hong Kong developed and transformed, so have the needs of migrant domestic workers both in terms of scale and the complexity of services required. Therefore, there was a need for HELP to grow and transform to better serve the community and ensure access to justice for migrant domestic workers.
We support domestic workers and employers in making informed decisions about their rights and responsibilities through education, and one-to-one advice and assistance. Through our initiatives, we aim not only to bridge the gap between domestic workers and employers but also to create pathways for access to justice for both parties.
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What issues are HELP tackling?
For many decades, we have strived to establish a society where migrant domestic workers are treated fairly, their legal rights are protected, and most importantly, their contribution is respected and valued.
An organisation is only as important as its mission. One of our main goals is to ensure migrant domestic workers have access to their basic rights under the laws of Hong Kong. We try to deliver on that by committing to work with both the workers and their employers in an empathetic and fair way.
With the rise in COVID-19 variants, domestic workers faced numerous challenges such as sudden job loss, pay cuts and a delay in starting new employment contracts. Their employers faced their own challenges as well. Adding to this, isolation, heavy workloads, bereavement and related fears are triggering a mental health crisis among domestic workers if not exacerbating existing ones.
There is an acute need for awareness and counselling on both sides of the employer-employee relationship. HELP provides educational support for employers while assisting them with reaching a mutually beneficial relationship with domestic workers. This is imperative for the long-term sustainable change that we seek.
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How can we get involved?
We need to step up and build our resources to better serve the domestic worker community which remains one of the most vulnerable to the pandemic.
We are investing further time and resources in strengthening and developing beneficiary programmes, technology and infrastructure, and personnel capacity, to better serve the needs of the community. We hope the Hong Kong community will double down on their support in every possible way as we seek to provide some semblance of certainty in an uncertain time – head here to pledge your support. To stay updated with our future activities and ways to get involved by signing up for our newsletter.
HELP strives to be at the forefront of serving migrant domestic workers and employers by addressing their unique challenges. If you seek help, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
All images courtesy of HELP for Domestic Workers.