by | Jun 28, 2024 | News

Hope- Lived Experience Blog

Lived Experience

Homeless Connect seeks to be informed in its policy and practice by the views of people with lived experience of homelessness.  Many of us have heard the term lived experience.  We know that engaging with people who use our services is a beneficial and positive experience.

Hearing the voice of people with lived experience is an important aspect of policy development and strategy. It improves performance, leads to better service delivery, and breaks down barriers. While sourcing various avenues to engage, and with the knowledge that tokenistic engagement can do more damage than good, we look to do it meaningfully.

We rarely stop to think of the impact this engagement has on some of the most stigmatised and marginalised in society: people with lived experience of homelessness. I get to see that impact each workday. It is a powerful motivation. I recognise this period of post traumatic growth as I have experienced it firsthand. It is inspiring and beautiful to see.

Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness can present in various ways. Whatever a person’s experience of homelessness, the realisation that you no longer have a safe place to live, for whatever reason, is traumatic.

You become a number, then a service user, then a no-one. Just a face in a sea of faces – a statistic. Your sense of self is eroded away as you struggle to meet your most basic of needs.  Dignity is gone. Your self-confidence in your own abilities at an all-time low, you don’t trust yourself to make decisions because this is all your own fault, right? You made the decisions that led you here.

It doesn’t take long until you accept that as a truth.

And the downward spiral continues; for years, for some.

Fast forward to being housed and securing a tenancy. On paper you are no longer homeless, but you still feel the same way about yourself. The hard work begins as you start to rebuild your self-confidence and perceived social value. There is no better realisation than the knowledge that even though your experience was traumatic, it can be used to help others, in turn helping yourself.

The difference engaging can make

Engaging with services in a meaningful manner builds confidence. Being heard, having a voice again, engenders trust in self and others.  This feeds into a general sense of positive well-being and in turn ripples into other areas in life.

When we engage with those with lived experience in the housing sector, we should tread with the greatest of care.  That experience will have shaped who they are and the direction of their lives to date.

As a society we owe it to our most marginalised groups, to listen and advocate for change. Many have been let down by the system. These experiences are a result of an ignorance of, or reluctance to acknowledge, the many issues facing those who experience homelessness by those who have the power to change it.

Nikki McConville is the Lived Experience Coordinator for Homeless Connect


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Can you help us bring about change?

We want to work with people who care about those experiencing homelessness. If you think you could give of your time to help we have a wide range of opportunities.

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