In her final blog, the pilot's embedded researcher Izabela Jamrozik reflects on her time on the pilot.
Being able to feel part of the pilot and different teams on the ground has been something I greatly appreciated, and I believe that it highlighted the importance of the role of an embedded researcher when conducting an evaluation with a multiply disadvantaged population whose trust in services and other people had often been let down numerous times.
In fact, this was often something the evaluation participants reflected on when talking about the difference they noticed once they started developing rapport with Housing First workers, and how they were able to slowly rebuild trust with someone who ‘was always there for them’.
This also applied to my role when I contacted people for follow-up interviews, and they could speak to someone they already knew and who was familiar with their story so they didn’t have to repeat it.
Even though a large proportion of interviews was conducted over the phone due to the pandemic, I had the impression that I was still able to get to know some people well and it almost felt like saying goodbye to an old friend when speaking to them for the final catch-up. And once I was able to see participants face to face again, that added an extra dimension to the rapport.
Knowing all the team members, being aware of some of the external services, as well as local areas and particularities (I had to make sure I got the local football teams right!) provided another platform for being able to relate to what the participants were talking about.
I learned a lot from the Housing First teams who have always been very open and accommodating and made it possible to reach out to or facilitate my conversations with those who they supported.
Those conversations also helped me understand the wider context to working for Housing First.
I was made aware of the challenges and pressures, the highlights and successes, how things interconnect and impact the situations of people supported by the program, but also the teams. It provided a bigger picture of the sector.
But foremost, it has been a tale of individuals whose lives have been changed in one way or another, in some cases by 180 degrees.
There was a lot of pride and gratitude in the words of some of the evaluation participants who described their achievements and how they were able to start having regular lives.
There was also an overarching feeling that it was only human to have a ‘wobble’ and someone was always there with a helping hand or a listening ear. And if some things weren’t working out as expected, the evaluation provided an anonymised platform to share such experiences and observations for people.
As my role with the evaluation is coming to an end, I look back and feel that I had the opportunity to be part of something special, and I met some truly amazing individuals amongst participants and those working for and with the GM Housing First Pilot.