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Housing first: People working with people

Author Category Source

Parity, 30(8), 37-38

Published Year Read Publication

This article explores the fundamental aspects and personal experiences within the Housing First programme in New Zealand.

The piece is constructed around an interview with Sonya Coop, a Support Navigator (Social Worker), and Fiona Watene, a Peer Support Worker, who are key members of VisionWest’s Housing First team. The narrative provides insight into the motivations, challenges, and profound impacts of working within a system designed to address chronic homelessness through a compassionate, person-centred approach. Unlike traditional housing services, Housing First emphasises the importance of understanding the individual stories of those experiencing homelessness, advocating for a non-judgemental, relentless support system that prioritises immediate housing without preconditions. Coop and Watene share personal testimonies and professional observations, highlighting the programme’s ability to change lives through empathy, listening, and sustained support. The article exemplifies the unique skills required in this field, such as resilience, flexibility, and the capacity to listen and connect with individuals on a deeply personal level. Additionally, it discusses the emotional journey of working in such a challenging yet rewarding environment, offering advice to newcomers and emphasising the importance of self-care and team support.

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