'Where to Now?' Understanding the Landscape of Health and Social Services for Homeless Women in London, Ontario, Canada

Homelessness is an ongoing social challenge effecting women in unique ways. The purpose of this research study was to understand a network of health and social services accessed by women experiencing homelessness, and how individuals successfully or unsuccessfully navigated these services. Data were collected utilizing a participatory application of the PhotoVoice method, grounded in a critical feminist intersectional perspective. Six women with lived experience of homelessness were recruited from a drop-in centre to participate in the six-week project. Through photo-taking, group discussions, arts-based dialogue, and individual interviews, themes were developed around women’s navigation of services and experiences of homelessness. A constant comparative method of thematic analysis was utilized so that themes could evolve iteratively and collaboratively with both the research team reflecting independently on qualitative data, and the women reflecting collaboratively on the data. Themes generated included: On the Margins; Feeling at Home; Mighty Women; Safety; Creating Home; and Whenever, Wherever. It is recommended that: 1) Communities keep developing more safe and affordable housing; 2) Government investments in homelessness include a general gender lens; 3) Women have access to 24-hour safe spaces; 4) Participatory research methodologies add valuable knowledge for women experiencing homelessness; and 5) Service providers be trained in trauma and violenceinformed care.

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