In our own voice: the collective wisdom of shelter workers

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Smyrski, Kim
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This exploratory study sought to understand the current lived experiences of shelter workers in the Province of Manitoba. Using Concept Mapping as the methodology, a map of their experiences was constructed. Four themes emerged: 1) Shelter worker's beliefs assist in navigating the territories; 2) Insufficient funding of shelters impacts shelter workers' personal and professional life; 3) Organizational culture and values present a vast array of challenges to shelter workers and lastly 4) External agencies and societal responses to domestic violence/women play a role in how shelter workers see themselves. Pattern matching revealed that previous counselling experience rather than age, length of employment and childhood history of trauma had the lowest level of agreement among participants. Findings also suggest that workers with a history of childhood trauma may be more aware of safety issues than workers without a trauma history. recommendations call for more research on shelter workers in Northern Manitoba as well as boards and management of shelters in all parts of the province. Safety issues of workers, organizational values and beliefs of shelters, worker's coping strategies, positive aspects of the profession, and the relationship between worker and client were other areas for future research
shelter workers, women's shelters