Methods: A qualitative methodology was adopted to interview 15 social service providers from diverse ethnic backgrounds serving disadvantaged ethnic minority groups (South and Southeast Asian groups from low-income households, foreign domestic workers, and asylum seekers/refugees). Participants consisted of 7 males and 8 females with an age range from 23 to 42 years. Five participants were Southeast Asian, one mainland Chinese, three South Asian, five Hong Kong Chinese, and one African. The average working experience with ethnic minorities in Hong Kong vary from 2 to 15 years. The interviews focused on social service providers’ insights about multilevel protective factors that could promote resilience in different ethnic minority groups in Hong Kong during a pandemic. The participants were asked to provide concrete examples of their understanding of resilience and its content in relation to a particular ethnic minority group. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. The thematic analysis was conducted based on data familiarization, initial code generation, theme search, theme review, theme definition and naming, and finally report production, guided by the empirical studies on the socio-ecological model of resilience in different settings.
Findings: Two major protective factors were identified as contributing to the development of resilience among diverse ethnic groups: individual-based resilience (being optimistic) and socio-environmental factors (e.g., ongoing support from consulates, strong family, peer, and religious settings’ support) using the integration of resilience and social justice frameworks. While some protective factors emerged only in specific ethnic groups (e.g., the support of consulates for foreign domestic worker), some were (e.g., support of religious settings and importance of social media) reported to be in all ethnic groups.
Conclusions and Implications: This study showed that the nature of protective factors is not clear cut. The present study recommends additional culturally sensitive service and policy implications for preventing the long-term impact of mass crises among Hong Kong’s marginalized ethnic minorities.
Social workers collaborating with other stakeholders (e.g., volunteers from public and academia) could organize resilience-building workshops, online workshops, or sharing sessions with ethnic minorities as needed. Especially, foreign domestic workers and asylum seekers/refugees appear to be the most underprivileged group among Hong Kong’s ethnic minority groups. They require additional emotional and financial support.
Policymakers should update the COVID-19 website to include information about ethnic minority groups. At this stage, we can only see how many people were vaccinated and their age group on the website; there is still little information about ethnic groups. This type of action will assist policymakers in designing and implementing services for the general public and marginalized populations.