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3 Tips for Supporting Homeless Individuals after Community Services Worker Training

September 7, 2016

Discover a few helpful strategies for students who will work with the homeless in their community services worker careers

Homelessness is an issue that the federal and provincial governments have made great efforts to address in recent years. Although there has been a good amount of progress, there are still approximately 250,000 people in Canada who experience homelessness every year.

As a Community Services Worker (CSW) you’d be on the front lines working with some members of the homeless population in your community trying to help them find a solution—whether that be a warm meal, a shoulder to lean on, or accommodations for the night. If you’re interested in earning a CSW diploma, you might even choose to work for an organization that helps homeless people exclusively. Read on for a few proven tips for working with members of the homeless population that might come in handy throughout your career.

1. Use the Communication Skills You’ll Develop During Community Services Worker Training

Regardless of the reasons that individuals end up homeless, it’s a situation that can really affect their sense of self-worth. When you work with homeless individuals in any capacity—from an intake interview to a full-on counselling session—it’s important to use your communication skills to take an empathic approach, rather than treating them like a number. Some homeless individuals are walked past by dozens, if not hundreds, of people a day while asking for change, so even engaging in a small conversation with them as you offer services can make a huge difference.

You’ll learn during your community services worker training that you should always try to avoid stigmatizing homeless individuals. There are many paths that lead to homelessness, and each person has a different story, so conversing with them can help set the stage towards finding the best service to meet their individual needs.

2. Pool Resources for Same-Day Help After Earning Your Community Services Worker Diploma

One of the advantages of earning a community services worker diploma is that you’ll work in positions where you’ll know about what challenges the community faces, as well as which resources are available. When dealing with homeless individuals, it’s important to have a list of resources that are immediately available to them so that they don’t have to go on a waiting list. This might include shelters, soup kitchens, organizations that donate clothing, and more.

Many soup kitchens throughout Canada are happy to provide meals to anyone in need

Many soup kitchens throughout Canada are happy to provide meals to anyone in need

During your career, it will be important to maintain relationships with various organizations that offer meals, shelter, medical attention, and more to the homeless to build a helpful support network. Even if you can’t help find someone a bed for the night, you may be able to at least direct them to where they can get a meal or a pair of shoes. Your ability to act fast will depend on your ability to stay organized with the resources that you can guide people to within the community.

3. Work on a Case-by-Case Basis After Community Services Worker Training

CSW training will teach you how to create and maintain all the important documents that go into people’s individual files. When working with homeless people, working on a case-by-case basis will be important since different individuals will require different services.

While some homeless individuals might require work skills training, others may be suffering from addictions, or require mental health services. Working case-by-case means keeping track of the services offered to each individual and maintaining an organized file on them so that you can also track their progress. While following up some time later, you’ll be able to see how people benefit from the variety of services offered within a community, and adjust the level of support they receive accordingly.

Want CSW training that will qualify you for a variety of community services worker careers?

Visit National Academy of Health and Business to find out how you can get started!


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