"It Was Bittersweet": Young People’s Experience of Having Undergone the Refugee Family Reunion Process in the UK

Prof Doc Thesis

Addai, C. 2019. "It Was Bittersweet": Young People’s Experience of Having Undergone the Refugee Family Reunion Process in the UK. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsAddai, C.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

An increasing number of people are fleeing conflict and persecution in their country of nationality and seeking refuge in countries such as the UK. In fleeing from danger, refugee people often become separated from their family. The right to family unity is recognised by international human rights frameworks; once granted refugee status, refugee people can apply for close relatives from their home country to join them in the UK, through the Family Reunion process. Little is known about how young people experience this process as previous research has neglected their perspectives.
This study was developed in consultation with the British Red Cross (BRC) to explore the perspectives of 12 young people, aged 16 to 21-years-old, who were reunited with a separated parent in the UK through the Family Reunion process. Participants had left Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iran and the Ivory Coast and resettled within the UK cities of Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham. One semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant, with the support of an interpreter when necessary.
Qualitative findings based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis identified three broad themes: Challenges Experienced: “Not easy at all”, Novelty of the UK: “You have to adapt” and Supportive Relationships. These themes explore participants’ experiences of the bittersweet feelings associated with reunion, navigating adult responsibilities, adjusting to cultural differences, welcoming new opportunities provided in the UK, readjusting to living with their parent and being supported by organisations, such as the BRC. These experiences are used to inform implications for BRC caseworkers, clinical professionals, policymakers and researchers.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
OnlineMay 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2019
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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