HELP for Domestic Workers is a Hong Kong-based non-profit that empowers migrant domestic workers to gain access to justice and receive fair and equal treatment. HELP provides migrant domestic workers, mostly women from Indonesia and the Philippines, with legal advice, case counseling, education on rights and responsibilities, outreach services, emergency shelter, and mental well-being support. In addition to its direct support of workers, HELP also engages employers to foster mutually beneficial employment relationships and create long-lasting, systemic change. While HELP has a small operational team, the majority of their services are administered and supported by volunteers, student interns, and experts working on a pro-bono basis. HELP is able to offer its array of services free of charge thanks to donations, sponsorship, pro-bono services, and other support from corporations, law firms, non-profits, and government organizations in addition to crowd-funded donations from individuals on HELP’s website and social media.
Many migrant domestic workers were fired and displaced when COVID-19 hit Hong Kong. HELP adapted its programs to provide migrant domestic workers with shelter, medicine, food, and isolation centers. HELP also raised awareness on the treatment of migrant domestic workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and specific issues they face, such as mistreatment, lack of access to COVID-19 resources, and potential deportation as a result of termination.
Theory of Change
Supporting vulnerable communities and raising awareness of their rights through community involvement helps prevent discrimination and build inclusion and solidarity in the society.
HELP uses a holistic approach and offers a variety of programs. The HELPline program provides at-risk domestic workers with emergency assistance that includes accessing shelter and basic needs, facilitating dispute prevention and resolution, responding to complaints, and developing good working relationships. HELPing Hands focuses on awareness and offers information on employment, immigration, civil, and criminal issues. HELP provides skills training and early interventions, and engages with future employers to build empathy and understanding of migrants’ experience. To ensure long term program sustainability, HELP trains volunteers to support the delivery of information and education sessions. MeHeal provides workers with one-on-one and group counseling services, physical wellbeing activities, and access to wellbeing resources. To combat stigma and encourage the use of services, MeHeal educates people on the importance of mental health. HELP also provides guidance and support to representatives of the community in developing their leadership skills. Partnering law firms and CSOs provide pro bono legal services, which include seeking settlements for discrimination, visa assistance, and support on employment contracts.
In 2022, HELP provided over 500 hours of mental health counseling and offered over 35 physical well-being classes. Over 85 domestic worker community leaders from across 10 districts were provided with leadership support. Through partnerships, HELP provided over 1,800 beneficiaries with advice and assistance. Moreover, HELP reached over 20,200 beneficiaries through its educational programs. During Hong Kong’s fifth COVID-19 wave, HELP supported over 800 domestic workers who were impacted by the pandemic. This included distributing over 300 vouchers from eight community partners, delivering over 200 hygiene kits, and providing access to shelter to over 190 domestic workers, meeting the basic needs of 70 domestic workers, and assisting 170 domestic workers with labor and immigration issues.