HKSR’s One-Stop Service Helps the Injured Get Back on Track

“Does my life end here?”, Ping asked himself. Six years ago, he quit his sales job to become a warehouse keeper for stable income…


“Does my life end here?”, Ethan asked himself. Six years ago, he quit his sales job to become a warehouse keeper for stable income. On his 11th day at work, his left foot was injured by a lift truck.

Ethan received physical, occupational and psychological therapies every week for two years. Terror-stricken even by crossing streets, “I was in a wheelchair for half a year, thereafter I relied on walking aids. I could only walk slowly and had to take a rest in every ten minutes. I also could not stay seated for too long.” His therapist advised him to get a job, knowing that he did not want his physical condition to hold himself back.

Unemployed for two years, he was worried about his ability to cope with a job and re-integrate into society. His therapist gave him information of HKSR’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Retraining Centre, where retraining courses and supported employment services are provided. He came to the centre and told the officer, Ms. Tsang that he was looking for a job. “No hurry”, said Ms. Tsang after learning about his situation, “Just pick a course that suits you and think about work afterwards”. He joined photography and video production classes. In retrospect, his current job did not have much to do with these skills, but he felt rather equipped. “If I had to go to work right at that point, I might not have accommodated well.” said Ethan.

Re-entering Workforce

After finishing the courses, Ms. Tsang referred him to work for Live Smart, a social enterprise under HKSR that mainly provides rehab and health care products. Ethan took a job as a part-time shop assistant. Live Smart mainly provides rehab and health care products. Committed to providing people with disabilities or chronic illnesses with training and employment, nearly 70% of Live Smart’s employees are people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

When he started this job, he was excused from prolonged standing and lifting heavy objects as his colleagues understood his physical condition. Four months later, he had to undergo surgery again to relieve pain in his left foot and took a 2-week leave. Feeling worried that he had to take sick leave in his first six months working, he was grateful to HKSR and his colleagues for their understanding and encouragement. He felt at ease whilst receiving treatments and taking a rest.

The thought of giving up crossed his mind, but his injury was not serious comparing to other colleagues. “Some of my colleagues have to attend medical consultation every week,” said Ethan, “But they would rather keep a job than living on welfare so that people will not look down on them.” Whilst they persevere, Ethan felt he had to be even more hardworking to familiarise himself with the products. He would seek help when there is anything unclear. Eleven months later, he was offered a full-time position and was later promoted to shop executive!

Showing Gratitude and Giving Back

HKSR’s supported employment service and social enterprise allowed him to step out of the shadow from his injuries, and re-integrated into society. Ethan thought that it is high time to give back, and hoped that his experience could help others, “I often share tips on choosing wheelchairs and walking aids with customers. Apart from that, when new staff members are onboard, I will visit different Live Smart stores and give them an orientation session and share my own rehab and work experiences to help them integrate into the workplace as soon as possible.”

With his work experience at Live Smart for the past 3 years, Ethan regained his confidence and once looked for new opportunities. Eventually, he found a job as an event coordinator, but after a few twists and turns, he returned to Live Smart. It is his fifth year working for Live Smart. “I once had a foot injury and was bound to a wheelchair for a while, and because of that, I am well aware of the difficulties that life throws at people with disabilities. HKSR is one of the very few organisations in Hong Kong that serves people with physical disabilities and provides a one-stop supported employment service. Apart from having social workers follow up on the physical conditions of the trainees, the trainees will be assigned with courses, internships and eventually a job, all of which has shone a light of hope for people with disabilities who wish to re-integrate into society.” said Ethan. His experience has also inspired other people with rehabilitation needs, changing many lives down the road ahead.