This paper aims to describe a novel collaboration between a worker and a former service user in developing two support groups – an art group and an “alcoholics anonymous group” self help group – at a central London “Wet” hostel for the homeless. The paper seeks to explore the issues raised for both workers in this experience.
The paper is a jointly written case study of innovative and reflective practice. It begins with an overview of policy frameworks and research that promote and advocate inclusion practice; then gives an account of the origins and development of the collaboration initiative; and concludes with reflections from each of the participants on what they have gained from the experience.
The main challenge for professionals lies in the need for “self‐reflective” practice and to challenge their own personal investments in the maintenance of their professional role and status. For ex‐service users, the challenge is to overcome low self‐confidence, the safety of the all‐too‐familiar “service user” role, and to realise that, despite real obstacles, a productive, useful contribution can be made to society. This can therefore be seen as a journey for both parties.
Working with multiple exclusion homelessness can leave professionals feeling isolated and deskilled, leading people with complex needs to be further excluded from services that feel that they do not fit their criteria. Tackling these issues requires time for reflection on the personal issues raised.
The paper provides unique learning and insight into the development and running of support groups, resulting from the novel collaboration between a worker and a former service user.
Conolly, J. and Ashton, P. (2011), "Staff and ex‐service user co‐working: a counselling service's enhanced response to multiple exclusion homelessness", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 134-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/14608791111220935Download as .RIS
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