Peer navigation is based on community-building and recognizing that people with lived experience are in the best position to support others in similar circumstances. We are in a crucial position both because we understand and can respond to the emotional toll of going through institutions that surveil and punish us, and because of our commitment to fighting and advocating alongside individuals in our community to make sure they have better experiences than we have had working our way through systems such as housing and income assistance.
Thanks to the Victoria Foundation for supporting this project Jan-July 2018. During this time we referred more than 300 people to various services, and did intensive ongoing support and advocacy for more than 35 individuals.
“The SOLID peer navigator role was developed to respond to the needs of people experiencing multiple structural disadvantages, address gaps in services and promote service integration for people experiencing or at risk for homelessness and poverty as well as currently using substances. Peer navigation fills a unique role in that the service is developed by and for peers and works with peers across multiple systems (health, social, legal, and housing). Peer navigation works on the basis of building trust and relationships with people and supporting people to access multiple systems through advocacy, direct accompaniment, referrals, and systems navigation. Peer to peer support has been demonstrated to improve access to services as well as health and well-being of those given and receiving such services.
The people served by the SOLID peer navigation program include people who are typically not able to access services at other agencies due to banning, lack of trust and safety. In fact, they are often individuals who are seen as too difficult or too complex for other agencies and services. Our clients are those who are often dismissed or overlooked or abandoned because of their complex needs. These complex needs are a reflection of the failures of multiple systems including health, legal, social and housing to effectively engage, integrate and respond to the needs of this group who are often left in the gaps created by silo-ed systems.”