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The foundation of all relationships is the ability to trust one another, especially in a time of crisis.  At Inn from the Cold, we understand the importance of developing relationships built on human dignity and connection to promote client-informed solutions that are impactful and sustainable in the long run. We believe that programming success stems from relationships.

Last year, The Inn’s Director of Programs, Nathaniel Miller and Manager of Reporting & Evaluation, David Sandoz presented “The missing link in data driven programming success: Relationship building and the lived experience of clients” at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness conference. They discussed the significance of relationships with frontline staff and our families staying at The Inn.

Forming meaningful relationships generates informative and actionable data. In return, The Inn can tailor our services to better support families. Collecting robust and unique information of human lives and experiences helps justify and improve our programs beyond only relying on quantitative data.

“How do we be even more responsible in stewarding the limited resources available to us? How do we ensure that we’re continuously providing the most compassionate care that we can? How do we ensure that human dignity and equity are factored in when we’re evaluating our programs?” Nathaniel and David point to one clear cut answer and that is: building meaningful relationships.

Some concrete ways this shows up in our work is through revisiting our intake process, more specifically, how the Data, Research, and Evaluation team collect their data. They have streamlined their database and simplified the whole process so that staff are able to focus on engaging with clients rather than solely focusing on data entry.

In addition, when assessing the long-term effects of our shelter services through phone surveys we have a dedicated staff contact the families because the pre-existing relationship already contains a certain level of trust. Families have expressed their appreciation for doing so because hearing from someone that truly cares about their success of their family as they progress in their lives, whether it be 2 to 6 months or even 2 years shows that The Inn cares.