A big congratulations to the Niagara Homelessness Emergency Liaison and Peer Support (HELPS) program team, the 2022-23 recipients of McMaster's President's Award for Community-Engaged Research.
The Niagara HELPS program is a program where Peer Support Navigators with lived experience of homelessness provide nonclinical assistance, supportive counseling, advocacy, and referrals for individuals experiencing homelessness who attend at the Emergency Departments of Niagara Health. The project documented the difficulties in accessing emergency care for persons experiencing homelessness and its recommendations evolved into Niagara HELPS in 2019. The program focuses on joining with the community as full and equal partners in all phases of the research process in achieving its six goals:
1. increasing access to community resources through education and collaboration,
2. advocating for equitable access to health services,
3. building trust in healthcare for persons experiencing homelessness,
4. creating leaders with lived experiences.
5. reducing social isolation and exclusion by creating a sense of belonging.
6. improving psycho-social and physical wellbeing of persons experiencing homelessness.