Enhancing well-being of homeless individuals by building group memberships

Melissa Johnstone*, Jolanda Jetten, Genevieve A. Dingle, Cameron Parsell, Zoe C. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    There is growing recognition that social isolation and a lack of connectedness with social groups is one of the reasons why the subjective well-being of homeless individuals is generally worse than the rest of the population. Past research amongst a range of populations suggests that the ability of an individual to take on new group memberships and/or their ability to maintain their memberships in meaningful groups is an important predictor of well-being. In a mixed method study (N = 119), we examined the extent to which experiences at homeless accommodation form building blocks for the formation of multiple group memberships and to what extent this predicts positive well-being. Qualitative analysis reveals the importance of feeling connected to the homeless service and supported by homeless accommodation staff. Linking these data to quantitative data from a second wave, we found that these experiences predicted well-being. These findings provide further support for a strength-based approach to homelessness, by providing insights into the ways that experiences at homeless accommodation can contribute to the development of multiple group memberships (i.e. social capital), and enhance the well-being of those experiencing, and exiting, homelessness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)421-438
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


    • homelessness
    • well-being
    • multiple identities
    • social capital


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