Optimising refugee resettlement in the UK: a comparative analysis

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies


Refugee resettlement is one of the most radical of all voluntary international migrations in terms of its impact on individual migrants. Resettlement is a very different way of becoming a refugee from the asylum system since refugees do not have to reach the territory of the destination state. Refugees are selected for resettlement by potential host states, in their country of first asylum, which is usually a neighbouring country to their own. Arrangements are made for their settlement and ongoing support, paid for either by the government of their new state, or by a sponsoring organisation. Refugees have social rights equivalent to citizens on arrival. Unlike the long, uncertain journeys undertaken by asylum seekers, the transition for resettled refugees is sudden and, given the contexts where they have been living previously, dramatic.
In the UK, refugees are selected for resettlement specifically on the basis of their vulnerability, making adaptation even more challenging. The UK manages resettlement through the Gateway Protection Programme, which relies on local council implementation, sometimes in collaboration with civil society. The aim of this programme is to achieve the integration of refugees along several different life domains (e.g. employment, housing, education, health, language and cultural knowledge, well-being and social relationships). Previous research into the integration of refugees has been scant and has tended to focus on the first four 'easier to measure' domains in cross-sectional studies. In this project we will additionally study refugee integration in the less tangible but no less important areas of well-being, quality of social relationships, self-efficacy and perceived social acceptance. We will also adopt a longitudinal approach so that refugee adaptation can be tracked over time.

This is a proposal for a multidisciplinary and multi-methods research project that will develop existing approaches to the integration of refugees through a longitudinal comparative study of resettled refugees in three different UK locations (Brighton, Greater Manchester and Norwich). Two research questions will be addressed:
1. How do these three areas compare in terms of integration outcomes for resettled refugees?
2. What are the key determinants of integration outcomes among resettled refugees, especially subjective well-being, self-efficacy and perceived social acceptance?

Answers to these questions will inform government refugee resettlement policy and theories of social cohesion and intergroup relations.
We will use a combination of focus groups, quantitative survey research and individual interviews, sequenced into three stages: Three focus groups will be held in each area once a draft questionnaire has been designed, in order to discuss the design and focus of the questions. A longitudinal survey of around 300 refugees will be conducted in three stages, nine months apart. This will permit the tracking of changes in participants' life experiences and well-being over the project, as well as providing insights as to potential causal relationships among variables. Individual interviews with key informants in each area and with a purposively selected sample will be held after each stage of the questionnaire. They will allow more detailed exploration of emerging themes from the survey and capture the diversity and richness of refugee experience, shedding vital light on the processes underlying their well-being and overall integration.
The project will also involve a significant capacity building element for 9 refugees who will be involved in the planning and implementation of the research. The Home Office, Refugee Action, The Refugee Council and the relevant local governments will all be represented on a steering group to advise on the conduct and direction of the research. The project will conclude with a substantial national conference to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Gateway Scheme 2014

Planned Impact

In addition to the academic beneficiaries, there are four key stakeholders in this project:
UK central government (e.g., Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Work and Pensions).
Local government (e.g., Brighton & Hove, Manchester, Norwich)
Refugee support NGOs (e.g., Refugee Action, Refugee Council)
Refugees themselves
Representatives of all four stakeholder groups will be involved in the research throughout thus ensuring the maximum interchange of ideas and information.
Stakeholders will benefit from the research in the following ways:
UK central government: by having access to a detailed longitudinal evaluation of how the Gateway Protection Programme (GPP) is working in three geographical areas with varying types and amounts of local governmental and NGO support. Evidence on the effectiveness of the GPP is very scarce and is concentrated in the first year after arrival. It has not hitherto considered the full range of adaptation outcomes including well-being, self-efficacy and perceived social acceptance nor in a longitudinal context. Ultimately, it is to be hoped that this will lead to an improvement in the quality of the GPP.
Local government: by being provided with both evidence on the success of refugee integration in their particular areas as well as comparative data from two other local authorities. In this way, lessons of good (and bad) practice in the resettlement of refugees can be shared and the quality of local services for refugees will be enhanced. It is hoped that more detailed information on pathways to successful integration for resettled refugees will encourage more local councils to become involved in the GPP and thereby increase the total UK capacity for resettlement.
Refugee support NGOs: by being provided with evidence on the effectiveness of their support services for refugees in three different geographical areas. It is anticipated that this may lead to the improvements of those services and also a better integration of the work of NGOs and local authorities.
Refugees themselves: the wider community of refugees in the UK will benefit in the long-term by the improvement in the support they are provided with by national and local government and NGOs. This should benefit their quality of life. A small group of refugees who will be recruited to work on the project will benefit by acquiring new skills, hence hopefully enhancing their future employment prospects.
Overall, it is hoped that this project will ultimately lead to more successful integration of refugees into mainstream British economic and cultural activities. It will have direct impacts on the management of the GPP at a local level, through the provision of detailed information on ways of supporting and enhancing the connections refugees form to others in society. In so doing, it should also improve the quality of intergroup relationships between the host majority and the refugee community, with consequent benefits for societal cohesion and harmony. New evidence collected by the project and dissemination strategies may also have an impact on national level policy decisions around possible expansion of the GPP.
Description The first aim of the research was to find out how the different cities compare in terms of well-being of resettled refugees. When analysing differences in well-being between locations, no significant differences were found. That is, well-being was the same in all locations. There were however differences in the number of people employed. The highest percentage of employed people among our respondents was in Norwich, while the lowest was in Greater Manchester. Yet, in all locations, less than 41% of respondents was employed - this includes part time and temporary employment. These percentages are much lower than the general employment rates in these locations.
For those who were looking for work, but had not found any work yet, we asked what they considered their main difficulties were in finding work. Language barriers were mentioned most often of all, closely followed by qualifications not being recognised in the UK. Both issues were also highlighted in many of the interviews, and were also the indicated as the reason why those respondents who did have a job, had one at a much lower level than their potential. Language barriers were often seen as a more general barrier against participation in society as a whole.

The second aim of the project is to find the key determinants of well-being among resettled refugees. We have now completed surveys and interviews for all three time points. There were many significant correlations with well-being. For example, strongly positively related to well-being were: social capital, self-efficacy, intergroup confidence, cultural understanding, quantity of contact with people of the same cultural background and with British people, and satisfaction with one's job, house, and education. Strong negative correlates were: perceived discrimination, intergroup anxiety, and negative contact experiences with British people, with people of the same cultural background, and with people back home, and finally, a longer duration of a search for a place in education.Based on these correlates, several interesting statistical models have been developed. Those are not all reviewed here, but to summarise: contact with different cultural groups plays an important role in explaining well-being. One example: respondents who have a lot of contact with both British people and people of the same cultural background as themselves have the highest well-being scores. The longitudinal design of our survey allows us to demonstrate not only that these relationships are consistent across each time point, but that certain features are closely related with changes at subsequent time points. The most significant finding here, one picked up on in the Guardian article on the project, is that English language ability relates closely to both employment and the extent of contact with native English speakers (the majority population) at later time points, but not the other way round. This means that someone who speaks better English is more likely to find a job and to experience positive contact with the majority population, but someone who already has a job will not necessarily improve their English through work. The relationship between language and other social indicators was well established but our research has provided new evidence for the direction of causality of these links, highlighting the importance of good English language education for resettled refugees.
Exploitation Route These findings are already feeding into the ways in which resettled refugees are provided with cultural orientation. The ongoing work with the Home Office integration team highlights important future directions. We are also preparing an event with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees to highlight these findings.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.sussex.ac.uk/migration/research/integrationcitizenship/refugeeresettlement
Description All results are in and the project has now come to an end. We have submitted three academic papers through they are still under review, so the findings have yet to appear in academic journals. At local government level, we have written a number of short briefings (on employment, housing and wellbeing) for local government authorities. At national level, we have contributed to a Home Office review of refugee integration strategy. Internationally, we have contributed training advice to the European Resettlement Network.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description UK Home Office Indicators of Integration Inquiry
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact The research team were invited to a closed consultation to prepare the new UK Integration Strategy for refugees. The final strategy is not yet published but our research has been influential in informing all aspects of discussions and has been widely recognised in the process.
Description Impact Accelerator Account
Amount £18,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Sussex 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
End 06/2018
Description SHARE partnership 
Organisation SHARE network
Country Global 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The main postdoctoral fellow manning the project was invited as an expert training consultant to the SHARE refugee resettlement network. She will facilitate the SHARE II Resettlement Ambassador Programme.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have increased the visibility of this research project, publicising the research across their EU network
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2014
Description York University Canada Link 
Organisation York University Toronto
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Two members of the Sussex University team (Morrice and Tip) visited York University in January 2018 to present the ESRC funded research, discuss refugee resettlement in Canada and plan further funding applications.
Collaborator Contribution Colleagues at York shared detailed information on recent data from research into the Canadian refugee resettlement scheme, provided an office for a week and organised access to the documentary centre.
Impact Public seminar at York University, ongoing discussion around Horizon 2020 application.
Start Year 2018
Description Brighton & Hove Council Briefing 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A private briefing was provided to officials from Brighton & Hove Council discussing the first round of survey data on wellbeing, in order to inform the Council's plans to welcome more resettled refugees to the city
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Brighton and Hove Refugee and Migrant Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The talked provoked much greater interest in the research process in the local area.

Local council representatives were keen to attend steering group meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Policy Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A full day policy workshop was held to present the major initial findings of the project. Three roundtables were held with 6-8 invited speakers on each round table:1. international organisations; 2. UK government and NGOs and 3. resettled refugee researchers in the project. The audience consisted of 125 individuals from local, national and international organisations, including UK government departments and UN organisations, in addition to invited graduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.sussex.ac.uk/migration/research/integrationcitizenship/refugeeresettlement/conference
Description Roundtable in Westminster 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We presented our research at a roundtable in Parliament. This was sponsored by Caroline Lucas, who attended along with several other MPs or MPs' researchers, representatives of UN agencies and NGOs and refugee participants in our research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=final-roundtable-meeting-report-on-optimising...
Description Steering Group 2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of results of first round generated interesting discussion for further dissemination and plans to adapt elements of stage 2 research

The International Organisation for Migration participants reported a determination to change the way they conduct pre-departure briefings for refugees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Steering group 1` 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact discussions shaped the design of the research, particularly the form of the questionnaire.

After the talk we received further enquiries from other organisations who wished to be on the steering group and requests to discuss the research in other contexts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
Description Wilton Park presetation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Michael Collyer was invited to give a presentation at Wilton Park, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office's conference centre, on refugee resettlement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/conference/wp1427/