Homeless women's experiences of social support from service providers
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine homeless women's interactions with service providers and the degree to which these interactions are perceived as social support. Design/methodology/approach: Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 homeless women recruited through a drop-in day shelter and a winter emergency shelter. Findings: Analysis revealed being "cared for" was experienced within service provider encounters and is commensurate with widely recognized sub-categories of received social support. Participants expressed expanded definitions of service providers and made clear distinctions between routine support expected from a provider and received social support, or being "cared for" by providers. Research limitations/implications: Studies with homeless persons that exclude service providers as a potential source of social support for homeless women or impose predetermined definitions of service provision may not be capturing the full range of participant encounters, relationships, networks, and experiences. Practical implications: Widely used social support measures could serve as a guide for creating education programs for persons who work with homeless people including: professional service providers, students likely to become service providers, paraprofessionals, nonprofessionals, and volunteers. Originality/value: Homeless women's voices have been added to the debate regarding whether social support is within the realm of service provision. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Biederman, DJ; Nichols, TR; Lindsey, EW
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