Using design thinking to assess needs and develop faith-based and leisure programming for women of lived experience with homelessness
Deng, Lexuan (Six)
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Homelessness is a critical issue across Canada. Providing housing and other basic services to individuals of lived experience with homelessness is a priority for agencies interested in addressing this issue. However, once basic needs have been met, provision of leisure and faith-based programming could contribute to holistic improvements in health and well-being for this homeless population. The purpose of this research is to empathize with and identify the needs of women of lived experience with homelessness living in Nanaimo’s Samaritan House (inclusive of Martha’s Place). Guided by design thinking and participatory action approaches (i.e., user-centered, empathetic, co-created design), qualitative data was collected from residents of the Samaritan House and Martha’s Place during the summer of 2019. The findings of the research will be used by Island Crisis Care Society (the non-profit that owns and operates the Samaritan House) to improve resident wellbeing by co-addressing their leisure and faith-based needs through their own efforts and via community partnerships. Our findings indicate that supporting leisure and recreational participation as well as opportunities to engage in faith-based activities is both desired and seen as key to supporting overall health and wellbeing.