Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, the newly established MtS Scholars with Lived Experience (MtS LivEx) Network had just met for the first time, and they were beginning to imagine what a network to support professional development for people with lived experience of homelessness (LivEx) could look like. With COVID-19, MtS LivEx has continued to connect and reflect on the serious and rapid changes happening in their communities and the world at-large. We reached out to two MtS LivEx members Charlotte Smith and Nancy Henderson to share their experience so far.
Charlotte and Nancy met during the first convening of the Network last month. When COVID-19 hit, they began working together, as peers, to respond to the crisis within their own communities almost immediately. With each other's support and by tapping into their personal networks, they’ve been able to supply harm reduction supplies to marginalized youth. Their own past experiences helped them quickly realize that youth with LixEx, recently housed or precariously housed, would face unique barriers to safely self-isolate or quarantine. Focusing on basic needs, safety, and items that would keep youth with LivEx inside, they were able to quickly respond to the crisis.
MtS LivEx meetings have provided scholars like Charlotte and Nancy with a safe space to share these stories and to learn from each other. For the time being, several network members are contributing to the Living Diary, accessible only to Network members, to document their experiences as academics, employees, volunteers, and people, some of whom dedicate much of their time to supporting peers, advocating and volunteering, during COVID-19. MtS LivEx scholars will have the option to contribute to the living diary weekly, with prompts such as:
“How has COVID-19 impacted our work/life right now? What strategies for collective community care have you found helpful as a peer, scholar and researcher”?
Coming out of these collective reflections, the network may collaboratively share their insights through blog posts, vlogs and other content for upcoming newsletter features. Stay tuned.
Beyond being a safe space to share the struggles during this historic time, the MtS LivEx Network is also a space for positivity, optimism, and mutual care. The Network will continue to co-curate opportunities like guest speakers, webinars, and career coaching; along with co-creating webinars, publications and knowledge products of our own.