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Shining a light on the experiences of staff working with young homeless people: a grounded theory study

Peters, Louise, Samuel, Victoria and Hobson, Christopher W. 2021. Shining a light on the experiences of staff working with young homeless people: a grounded theory study. Children and Youth Services Review 121 , 105843. 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105843
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Young people experiencing homelessness represent one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Research which has considered staff experience, has highlighted the importance of the interaction between the workers and the homeless young people. Very few studies have considered the emotional impact of the support worker role in young people’s homeless services. The aim of this study was to investigate the psychological and practical coping skills staff employ to negotiate the demands of their roles, with a focus on how staff work to develop supportive relationships with young homeless people with complex trauma histories. Eleven staff (5 male, 6 female) participated in this research. All the participants were Support Workers employed by the same organisation, supporting youth experiencing homelessness across two urban areas of Wales. Participants engaged in semi-structured interviews exploring their experiences. Data was analysed adopting a Grounded Theory approach. Seven main concepts were identified in the analysis: the need to be “a certain kind of person”; the rewards and challenges of the role; the impact of the organisational context and culture; individual approaches to coping; possible adverse impacts of the role; enjoyment of the role; and personal growth. The interaction between these concepts was considered and conveyed via a proposed model. A theory of balance was developed within which a pivotal process was the fluctuation between feeling supported by the organisation and coping well and feeling unsupported and struggling to cope. It is hoped that the findings from this research will directly inform clinical practice regarding psychologically based interventions for staff in settings for young people experiencing homelessness and be a valuable contribution to the scarce research literature on services for young homeless people.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0190-7409
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 December 2020
Date of Acceptance: 8 December 2020
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2021 03:23

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