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Institute for Social Justice

Asylum seekers and refugees

Our research currently has a particular focus on the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees.

Asylum seekers and refugees are often the most vulnerable within our society, frequently without easy access to support and facing barriers of prejudice, language and bureaucracy.

Research in this theme seeks to understand asylum seeker experiences and impact on policy and practice in areas such as resettlement and the role of language in shaping perceptions and experience.

Our current projects are:

Barriers of Language and LGBT+ Asylum Seekers

Quotes about experiences of asylum seekers I fear I will be persecuted again I can't openly function as a gay man in Nigeria It's a repressive homophobic society

How do we overcome the barriers facing LGBT+ people seeking asylum in the UK?

Most LGBT+ asylum seekers are unsuccessful in their efforts to gain asylum in the UK, yet our understanding of why this is the case has been relatively under-researched. We know language can be a key barrier, whether that is in the Home Office interviews that asylum seekers must participate in, the paperwork they must complete, or the legal process they enter.

The Institute is funding a new collaboration between experts in Language and Linguistics, and Law, alongside specialist organisations that work with asylum seekers, to explore the particular experiences of LGBT+ communities and how language throughout the asylum seeking process might prejudice the outcomes this cohort experiences.

For further information contact Professor Helen Sauntson.

Integration Experience of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Quote - I felt like I was in prison. Living in a room, and in a bad area, felt like hell. But having TV and the window really helped me keep myself entertained. I've been through bad days and these distracted me from my immigrant situation.
Image credit: Karrie Fransman

Our proposed research aims to contribute to advancing social justice for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK through action that asserts political activism in policy development and advocating for appropriate support services. This aim is informed by practice-based evidence and the voice of refugees and asylum seekers themselves.

The study will address two key aims:

  1. To explore the experience and meaning that asylum seekers and refugees based in the North of England find in using support services to aid meaningful integration into daily life in the UK.
  2. To explore how support services in the North of England currently respond in facilitating meaningful integration for asylum seekers and refugees.

For further information contact Professor Divine Charura.

Community Allotment for Refugees

Woman in grey jumper watering a plant in an allotment

The research is a community-based collaboration that is using a newly developed allotment space to support York-based refugees to adjust, integrate and become self-supporting in their new life in the UK.

Run by Hannah Spring (health) and Fiona Howlett (occupational therapy), the project places a strong emphasis on social justice and is a collaborative endeavour between occupational therapy staff and students at York St John University and staff, volunteers and service users at Refugee Action York. 

There is evidence supporting the therapeutic benefits of gardening and horticulture for refugees and this project will help us to study these effects further in the context of community integration, health and wellbeing. 

For further information contact Dr Hannah Spring.

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