Sussex Centre for Migration Research

Optimising refugee resettlement in the UK: a comparative analysis

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Refugee resettlement is a vital tool in the system of international protection. It provides a way for countries, like the UK, to offer support and solidarity in responding to refugee movements occurring elsewhere. This project uses a combination of focus groups, quantitative survey research and individual interviews to investigate well-being and integration of resettled refugees in Brighton & Hove, Greater Manchester, Norwich, and Sheffield. Research involves a multi-method longitudinal study with three time points. It is the largest longitudinal study of refugee resettlement ever undertaken in the UK. Ultimately we hope that the research will contribute to improving the resettlement experience for refugees in the UK and beyond.

The research explores the experiences of resettled refugees who arrived in the UK in 2010 or earlier through the Gateway Protection Programme, the UK’s resettlement programme. This focus on people who already have substantial experience of living in the UK differs from previous research in this area and allows the research to explore longer term integration for those who have experienced the dramatic changes associated with resettlement. The research interprets integration very broadly as a wide range of processes that help to facilitate life in a new place. The longer-term perspective, combined with longitudinal methods will contribute to understanding the dynamics of longer term integration processes.

The three time points were just under a year apart. In early 2014, 280 resettled refugees filled out a questionnaire about their lives, their attitudes, feelings, and well-being. Almost a year later, 219 of them filled out the same questionnaire again. Finally, 208 of them filled out a third questionnaire another year later. After each stage of the questionnaire, thirty individual interviews were held with a purposively selected sample of key informants in each area, allowing for more detailed exploration of emerging themes from the survey and capture the diversity and richness of refugee experience.

In order to improve the quality of the research and include the expertise of refugees themselves, the project involved a capacity-building element for ten formerly resettled refugees. They were involved in the planning of the research, were trained to be research assistants, and assisted in collecting data.

Research was supported by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of local city or county councils, the UK Refugee Council, the Home Office, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Refugee Action, the Norwich Asylum-Seeker and Refugee Forum (NASREF), the Brighton & Hove Refugee& Migrant Forum, a Gateway refugee representative, and academics. This committee was consulted before starting data collection, and have been involved throughout the research process.

We are currently about to finish the third and last data collection. In the meantime, our initial results and experiences have enabled us consult for the European Resettlement Network, Ashford Borough Council, and the IOM, and to present preliminary findings at various conferences and other meetings.