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At its core trauma refers to the emotional response that results from experiences where an individual has faced major threats to their health, safety, and well-being. Many of the families who come to Inn from the Cold are carrying trauma from their past and not-so-distant past. Experiencing homelessness comes with a great sense of loss and disorientation.

Our Executive Director, Heather Morley explained how “we are all deeply influenced by the space around us and so for me, it was a priority that our new building, Neoma, incorporated elements of trauma-informed design so our space aligned with our mission.”

But what exactly is trauma-informed design? To us, trauma-informed design is about creating spaces that incorporate principles of trauma-informed care with the goal that people in the space feel a sense of calm and safety. There are several principles to trauma-informed care: Safety, Trust, Peer Support, Collaboration, Choice, and Cultural/Historical/Gender Considerations.

At The Inn using a trauma-informed approach is ingrained into our policies and standards and it sets how we interact with families and one another.

Families using The Inn’s programs and services are carrying enough worry and burden through the experience of a housing crisis without then being sheltered in a less-than-optimal environment. That is why from day one we worked with the designers and architects on the Neoma project to explain who would be using the space and how they would move through and use the space.

“Safety is paramount, so safety systems had to be present but not obtrusive. A sense of calm is necessary for healing and so there was a focus on maximizing natural light. Comfort and belonging are essential in a trauma-informed approach, so we were intentional with our use of colour and art and cultural expression throughout the space. Attention was paid to sight lines, so we wanted to include open hallways and higher ceilings where possible,” Heather added.

By making everyone in Neoma feel safe, welcome, and included we will hopefully reduce stress and anxiety for the families using The Inn’s programs and services.

“I strongly believe the families and the staff team at Inn from the Cold deserve a dignified, welcoming, and empowering space in which to live, work and play. We are grateful to our friends at HomeSpace, Gibbs Gage Architects, Lori Van Rooijen, PCL, M3 Developments and everyone who worked on the design and construction at NEOMA to ensure that our families will have safe and welcoming shelter and housing and that The Inn will have a purpose-built, home for years to come,” said Heather.