//vol.16-1 HKFYG Highlights: Alumni

My Second Home


Growing up in a family of conflict, violence and abuse, Raymond Yang calls the Federation’s youth centre a second “home,” where he gained strength, courage and confidence.


Raymond Yang still remembers how he first met youth worker Ah-chung from the Shau Kei Wan Youth S.P.O.T. in 2007 inside a classroom. This special encounter, “forced” by secondary school compulsory volunteering, has forever changed the trajectory of Raymond’s life.

In an interview with Youth Hong Kong, Raymond, who is now the co-founder of JUST FEEL, a charitable organisation offering Compassionate Communication and Social-Emotional Learning education to Hong Kong schools, opens up about his entrepreneurial journey and the pivotal role his second 「home」 at the Federation played in his development.


Compassionate Communication and Social-Emotional Learning focus on creating a learning environment where safety, respect, care, empathy, and understanding are central to the educational experience.


Finding an Escape

Raymond did not have a happy or normal childhood, which he remembers as being full of conflicts and violence, because of his abusive father and needy mother who struggled with the mortgage, toxic family relationships and the shame of being new immigrants in Hong Kong.

“I remember one time when my parents got into a fight and threatened each other with knives…I didn’t know why we lived together if we hated each other so much,” Raymond reflected, saying that there was a period when he and his sister wanted to die.

Going to school and staying away from home did not make Raymond’s life any better, only worse. He was not academically gifted, and attending a school where only good marks were valued, he found the atmosphere both stifling and “boring,” wanting desperately to escape. The Youth S.P.O.T at Shau Kei Wan became his only gateway to run away from both family and school.

“Back then, I was not clever and sporty enough to have my teachers’ attention and I felt so suffocated. My English was so bad and I couldn’t understand anything the teachers said. So, I was so excited when I could leave school and go to the centre,” said Raymond, although his father strongly opposed it and regarded it as a waste of time.


“I felt safe at the Shau Kei Wan youth centre.”


While at the Youth S.P.O.T., Raymond forged a deep connection with Ah-chung, who provided him with care and support akin to that of a family member. This bond became stronger and evolved into a lasting friendship, with the two now working as colleagues at Raymond’s NGO.

“The Shau Kei Wan centre served as my home, where I felt safe, accepted, confident to fail and learn from the failures. The staff there gave me the re-parenting which my family of origin could not offer,” Raymond said.

When Raymond was in Secondary Five, he proposed organising a volunteering event, taking students to see the Christmas lights in Tsim Sha Tsui. With Ah-chung’s assistance, he turned his proposal into reality, which marked his first foray into leadership.

「If it weren’t for my experiences with the Federation, helping me to muster up the courage to express my ideas and engage in discussions with others, I might not have the motivation to join the New Asia College Student Union at university, not to mention the courage for work and entrepreneurship.」


The impact of the Federation and Raymond’s volunteering experiences extended beyond measurable outcomes. In a family and school environment where differing opinions were suppressed, he began to appreciate the significance of critical thinking and embracing diversity through discussions with Federation staff.

In 2010, Raymond was selected as one of the “Ten Eastern District Outstanding Youth,” when parents and teachers started changing their perceptions of him. Apart from his participation at the Shau Kei Wan Youth S.P.O.T., Raymond also participated in the leadership programme “Hong Kong 200,” along with other volunteering activities, like hiking and caring for the elderly.


Connection Before Solution

In spite of all his obstacles, Raymond got into The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he majored in Government and Public Administration. Here he realised the power of education in supporting the next generation and transforming society.

Unfortunately, during his final year at university, Raymond lost his best friend who committed suicide. The incident devastated him, making him question whether he had been a good listener and if he had been able to provide the support his friend needed. This experience fuelled his exploration of counselling, psychology, and most importantly Compassionate Communication.

After graduation, Raymond became a Teach For Hong Kong teaching fellow at a local primary school, where he observed that many of his students did not know how to express their emotions or resolve conflicts properly. “I wonder what had happened to them and whether they’d had a similar childhood to mine. I began talking to them about Compassionate Communication. One student cried and said his parents had never asked him about his feelings,” Raymond said.

This experience planted the seed of teaching students how to express their feelings. Along with his colleague, Matthew Kwok, who was also passionate about the idea, and with support from the principal, they went to Taiwan to meet psychiatrist Dr Joseph Cheng in 2018, who was promoting Compassionate Communication.

During the visit, Raymond and Matthew explored how Compassionate Communication education could be applied in schools, families and other settings. The principal of the school where they were teaching, was very supportive of the initiative and saw the need to apply it in Hong Kong. Backed by the school, Raymond, Matthew and Anthony Ngai, a father who values emotional education, founded JUST FEEL in June 2018.

As a team leader, Raymond believes in the power of “connection before solution,” which is also the motto of JUST FEEL. “On an individual level, it means connecting with oneself by accepting, acknowledging and expressing how we honestly feel and connect with our needs behind. At the interpersonal level, we need to connect empathetically with each other first, before trying to reach a solution.”


Words to Young People

Raymond’s message to young people is simple: Seek help. “If someone is suffering within a traumatic family, seek help as early as possible,” he said, emphasising the importance of professional support from social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

The journey of self-healing and self-love continues for Raymond. He still has to deal with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) symptoms and emotional flashbacks back to his childhood trauma, for example, his nervous system is still hijacked when he suddenly hears the sound of something falling on the floor.

Reflecting on his childhood, he has mixed feelings. While he laments his chaotic upbringing, he takes pride in his resilience and courage in living with that trauma. Through the establishment of JUST FEEL, he now guides a team, translating his personal experiences into valuable insights related to “trauma-informed education” to empower those navigating similar emotional upheavals.



Raymond, a graduate from New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, actively participated in the Federation’s volunteering and leadership programmes such as “Hong Kong 200.” He co-founded the charitable organisation JUST FEEL, with the mission to empower educators and parents to nurture the next generation with Compassionate Communication.