When most expats arrive in Hong Kong they have a sense of excitement and adventure, whether they are here for a short 2 year stint or planning to stay a bit longer. For each of us, that journey unfolds in different ways but for some it can be totally unplanned and unexpected.
This was something that Caroline Roy saw as a newly arrived expat, having experienced a close friend die after a relatively short time in Hong Kong and seeing another friend going through a painful separation and divorce. She realised that there was very little support for expat families in these situations. At the same time, they faced huge challenges. Although the death of a partner and separation are major traumatic changes for anyone, being away from a home support network, being unfamiliar with the legal and financial issues and not knowing where to find out this information can really add to the burden.
Caroline, who is a coach, writer and entrepreneur wrote a blog post about this issue in 2015, suggesting that she wanted to start some form of resource group to help rebuild the lives of those who are single as a result of personal trauma, separation or divorce. She was amazed by the response from a large group of volunteers and Plan B was born.
Plan B is an association of Hong Kong volunteers with diverse professional and personal backgrounds who are here for single parents and expats in crisis.
They provide coaching and consulting including budgeting, financial advice, returning to work, working through legal questions and practical applications such as obtaining work visa, custody and school fees. They also provide practical and emotional support, such as assistance with childcare or just an ear to listen. The group of volunteers work on solutions for individuals, parents and children to build a foundation for their future success in Hong Kong.
The help can be anything from simply providing information on a particular topic, assisting with filling in forms or finding professionals to help, right through to ongoing support in the entire rebuild of someone’s life. The most commonly sought areas of support are around financial issues and visas.