Project HOME and the Philadelphia Food Access Collaborative coordinated and held a training session for emergency meal provider staff and volunteers to learn more about how to engage meal guests and make meaningful referrals to social services. The training, which was led by Carol Thomas and Karen Orrick of Project HOME, shared the basic outreach principles that Project HOME outreach workers use, placing significant emphasis on relationship building and creation of safe spaces to connect. Project HOME also trained participants on how to navigate escalated situations, and how to recognize the difference between opportunities for engagement and times when it may not be appropriate to engage or refer a guest.
Participants and the facilitators shared examples of successful engagement as well as challenges they had faced in engaging guests and referring them to services. Karen Orrick, a facilitator and the Project Coordinator for the Hub of Hope, a winter walk-in homeless outreach services center in Center City, shared that she received feedback from guests about how her body language was affecting their interactions. Based on this feedback, she was able to engage guests in a way that made them more comfortable and thus improved their relationships. As a result of sharing this story, the facilitators made recommendations on best practices for how body language can impact engagement, and how to create an open and positive space. Finally, Project HOME shared resources from the Where to Turn Guide, which can be found online here.
For more information about any of the resources from this training, please contact the Philadelphia Food Access Collaborative at firstname.lastname@example.org.