Improving Outcomes in Young People Experiencing Homelessness with My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™): A Qualitative Realist Evaluation

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  • Newman University


Young people experiencing homelessness often have multiple and complex support needs, and subsequently face various health inequalities. In the United Kingdom, housing services recognise the need for more effective intervention strategies. In response to this issue, My Strengths Training for Life™ (MST4Life™) is a community- and outdoors-based, positive youth development programme that aims to promote meaningful change for young people experiencing homelessness (aged 16-24). Capturing the experiences of programme participants, housing service staff and outdoor instructors, a realist evaluation was conducted to understand how, why, and for whom the programme is effective. Findings indicate that MST4Life™ is an effective intervention for fostering psychosocial development, intentional self-regulation, and longer-term positive behavioural change. Central to the success of the programme is a consistent theory-informed approach, a strengths-based life skills programme, and an appropriate transfer setting. The societal, theoretical and programme specific implications of these findings are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2020


  • realist evaluation, Young people, homelessness, Positive youth development, self-determination theory, Outdoor adventure education