How is participation related to well-being of homeless people? An explorative qualitative study in a Dutch homeless shelter facility

M. Rutenfrans*, B. van der Plas, R. den Haan, T. Van Regenmortel, R. Schalk

*Corresponding author for this work

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The majority of homeless people is socially excluded which negatively affects their well-being. Therefore, participation-based programs are needed. The current research is conducted within a Dutch homeless shelter facility that offers educational, recreational, and labor activities to clients in an environment which is designed to feel safe (an enabling niche). The main aim of these activities is to facilitate social participation. We conducted two qualitative studies consisting of 16 semi-structured interviews, to explore clients’ experiences with participation in activities in relation to their well-being. The findings showed that clients experienced that participation had led to an improvement of physical, social, and mental well-being. In general, clients reported that due to participation in activities they have strengthened their social support network, improved their (mental and physical) health, self-esteem and personal growth. We concluded that in order to facilitate long-term positive outcomes of participation in practice, it is necessary to focus on group cohesion, and on the social worker’s behavior and attitude
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-55
JournalJournal of Social Distress and the Homeless
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • DRUG
  • Well-being
  • enabling niche
  • group work
  • homelessness
  • participation

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