A Relational Inquiry into Social Protection Networks for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Social and Policy Sciences


The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 call for an end to poverty in all its forms everywhere, through the adoption of integrated social protection (SP) and development policies that foster inclusive societies where no one is left behind (UN, 2015b, a). However, recent literature suggests an implicit and explicit discrimination towards asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) in UK social policy leading to high rates of destitution, poor health and isolation among this group (Refugee Council, 2004; Fitzpatrick et al., 2015). With the impending Brexit, fuelled by anti-immigration rhetoric, and catalysing a re-examination of domestic policy, there is an urgent need for empirical data on the impact of current SP provision on ASRs.

Aims and Objectives
My research will critically interrogate the formal and informal, local and cross-border, SP mechanisms utilised, and provided, by ASRs in the UK, locating these SP systems within wider national immigration discourse and debate and elucidating any gaps between publicised SP objectives and the lived realities of those they impact. The complex social networks of ASRs will be mapped to understand how each element interacts to constrain or enable the realisation of self-reported, multidimensional wellbeing, including a comparison between the experiences of resettled refugees, asylum-seekers granted legal refuge and those refused asylum. Individuals' experiences, beliefs and values concerning SP provision in all its forms will also be investigated.

My research will also test the efficacy of the Qualitative Impact Protocol (QuIP) (BSDR, 2019) in collecting autobiographical narratives and mapping support networks, illuminating network constituents' interactions as drivers of change in multidimensional wellbeing. The QuIP methodology will offer a quantitative overview of the data, with easily navigable linkages to the qualitative narratives, providing outputs suitable for a range of audiences.

Research will cover new theoretical, empirical and methodological ground by:
* recording ASRs' perceived needs, SP experiences, and opinions on support responsibilities;
* considering ASRs as receivers and givers of SP locally and transnationally;
* linking SP interaction with self-reported, multidimensional wellbeing using a relational wellbeing lens;
* comparing the social networks of three legally and politically distinct groups of ASRs longitudinally;
* focusing on the local Bath/Bristol area (home to over 30 ASR support groups);
* testing the efficacy of the QuIP methodology to capture autobiographical narratives and construct social network illustrations.

My research will add to the fields of social policy, migration studies and psychology by testing the efficacy of the QuIP, social network analysis and a relational wellbeing lens in understanding and illustrating ASRs' experiences of formal and informal SP for a range of audiences.

Economically and societally, it will offer insights into the complexity of SP networks, ASRs' perceptions of need, agency and support responsibility, and how their interaction with SP providers constrains or enables wellbeing and integration. This is important to policymakers, TSOs, businesses and citizens, supporting better engagement and policy formation.

BSDR, 2019. BSDR Briefing Paper: QuIP. Bath. Available from: https://bathsdr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/QUIP-briefing-paper-May-2019.pdf
Council, R., 2004. Hungry and homeless: The impact of the withdrawal of state support on asylum seekers, refugee communities and the voluntary sector. London: Refugee Council
Fitzpatrick, S., Bramley, G., Blenkinsopp, J., Johnsen, S., Littlewood, M., Netto, G., Sosenko, F. and Watts, B., 2015. Destitution in the UK: An interim report. York: Rowntree Foundation
UN, 2015b. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In: U.N.G. Assembly, ed. A/RES/70/1. United Nations


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2403142 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2020 01/03/2024 Michelle James