Building upon the success of the pilot work done in the STRENGTH project, and in co-leadership with Inner-City Women’s Initiatives Society (ICWIS), the team has secured funding to scale up this program in Vancouver and other cities across Canada.
We are currently launching the next phase of this work in the Scaling Up project. In this next phase, STRENGTH continues as the Vancouver site for the larger project.
The STRENGTH Project
STRENGTH was a three-year community-based, participatory action pilot study to design a women-led, trauma and violence informed model of outreach in the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Using a strengths-based approach that recognized women’s resilience as well as the impacts of ongoing and historical trauma, outreach teams worked to build trust and relationships between outreach workers and self-identifying women. Outreach teams worked with women in identifying their goals and needs and, in partnership, supported them to engage with services and supports to address their goals.
What We Did
Many women experience challenges receiving services appropriate to their needs. These challenges are shaped by siloed service delivery, isolation, knowledge gaps about services, and negative encounters in support service settings. Outreach activities can build lasting relationship between support workers and women in ways that enhance quality of life and overall wellbeing, and are not harmful or re-traumatizing.
The overall aim of the project was to develop a model of outreach that was women-led, strengths-based and trauma and violence informed.
Our participatory action research (PAR) approach involves researchers, health and social service leaders/staff and women experiencing violence.
The STRENGTH project was built upon the expertise and leadership of women in community. The Inner-City Women’s Initiatives Society (ICWIS) was the lead community partner and together with women, they built a community advisory committee (CAC) to co-lead the project.
Clients, staff and leadership of ICWIS identified the need for strengths-based women led programming, that was not deficit-based or siloed, to engage with the women most often missing in supportive health and social services outside of a crisis context.
The CAC was established as a key advisory and decision-making body for the project as a whole. Sharing from their experiential expertise, the CAC ensured that women’s safety was upheld at all times, that the research was ethical and the results meaningful for participants and the community as whole.
Publications and Related Resources
- STRENGTH Pilot Study Report
- Interim Reports:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Dr. Victoria Bungay
Linda Dewar, Inner City Women’s Initiatives Society