Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Community, Policy, Planning and Organizations


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Lea Caragata

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Peter Dunn

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Third Advisor

Eliana Suarez

Advisor Role

Committee Member


In this thesis, the factors that contribute to resilience are explored in a sample of participants who attend a food bank/clothing bank drop-in program in North Hamilton, Ontario. Resilience is defined as obtaining positive outcomes despite a level of risk to development. This thesis expands on the literature clarifying the concept of resilience. This thesis also contributes importantly to the smaller amount of literature on resilience in adults and older adults. Purposive sampling was used to obtain participants from the drop-in program at which the researcher volunteers. Phenomenology was utilized for this research, semi-structured interviews were used for data collection, and textural analysis was used to analyze the data. Eight participants were interviewed about their experiences with attempting to overcome adversity in their lives. Factors that were significant in participants’ resilience through adverse situations were psychological characteristics, social support, neighbourhood characteristics, voluntary sector services, and government services. A significant barrier to resilience for participants was housing issues. A factor that affected every aspect of the journey to resilience was the sociopolitical structure. The structural landscape and its transformation over the past several decades is discussed, as well as the effects of neo-liberalism on the ability to be resilience. Results are discussed in light of the current literature. Learning of the researcher, limitations of the thesis, policy and practice implications, and possibilities for future research are discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons