Meet Haiqal, a Social Work Associate (Case Manager) at Pertapis Halfway House (PHH). Formerly an Air Steward, Haiqal made a career switch and is now part of the Career Conversion Programme for Social Workers (CCP-SW), a work-study programme supported by PERTAPIS. He shares with us the reason behind his career switch and his journey with us so far!
Q & A with Haiqal Sari
What is your role and how did you find your way to your current role at Pertapis Halfway House (PHH)?
I am currently a Social Work Associate (Case Manager) here at PHH as part of the Career Conversion Programme (CCP). I was working at one of the Social Service Offices (SSO) under the Ministry of Social & Family Development when my then-supervisor introduced the programme to me. I applied for it without hesitation, and have not looked back since.
What made you pursue a career in the social service sector?
Prior to this, I have had many short-lived passions and aspirations. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be a journalist, and that spurred me to study Communications in Polytechnic and, subsequently, University. I was even a reporter for The New Paper for almost a year at one point, with over 200 articles published.
However, as time went on, I began to realise that it may not be my true calling. I then went on to work several different jobs, before winding up as a Cabin Crew. Alas, that was not to be either, as Covid struck and I was grounded within a year. But that was a blessing in disguise, as I signed up to be reassigned to an SSO to work in financial assistance. I found myself embracing the social service, as it reconciled the skills I’d learnt throughout my life, with a meaningful and noble intention behind it all.
What is a typical workday like for you at PHH?
Most days start with a morning briefing among the staff of the halfway house, where we fill each other in our objectives for the day. Group work is then organized in the morning, where staff band together to give encouragement and listen to their concerns as a community. Following which, the afternoons are usually spent having one-to-one sessions with my clients, helping them meet their needs for reintegration through writing referrals and sourcing for advancement opportunities for them.
Otherwise, on some days, I carry out my duties as the officer-in-charge of the residents’ employment matters by conducting site visits to ascertain their performance at work, or by reaching out to new employers to secure a consistent flow of value-added employment opportunities through partnerships and collaborations. An example of that would be our recent success in onboarding several big-name hotels, all for the betterment of PHH’s residents. On top of that, there are other projects which I’m involved in, where I carry out talks and workshops for the residents.
What has been the most challenging part of your role and how did you overcome it?
When I first started out at PHH, I was in a constant state of anxiety, and had to constantly face my imposter syndrome head-on. I could never put myself in my clients’ shoes and, for the most part, our lives could not be more different. Sure, I was no stranger to working with the disadvantaged, but PHH is a residential home, and a lot more is expected of a Social Worker in such a setting. But what I learnt over time was that our residents value honesty and integrity. I give my all for each and every one of my clients, and never expect the worst of them. People pick up on that.