Locating Family of Origin Following Family Tracing: The Experiences of Unaccompanied and Separated Young People Seeking Asylum

Prof Doc Thesis

Parfitt, T. 2019. Locating Family of Origin Following Family Tracing: The Experiences of Unaccompanied and Separated Young People Seeking Asylum. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8756z
AuthorsParfitt, T.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Unaccompanied young people comprise a significant proportion of forcibly displaced persons in the UK, facing further complications due to their ages and subsequent support needs. The importance of family networks for developing young people, including the negative sequelae of family separation, has been well documented. However, limited research exists with respect to unaccompanied young people’s efforts to locate missing family members.
The present study aims to contribute to the narrow research base through illuminating how unaccompanied young people experience family tracing procedures by asking them about this directly. To this end, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight young people to ask them about their experiences of family tracing with the British Red Cross, the singular provider of international family tracing efforts in the UK. Their resulting accounts were analysed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and three main themes were identified: ‘Adjustment’, ‘Uncertainty’ and ‘Ability’. Participants experienced distress as a result of family separation and had ongoing concerns about the welfare of missing family members. Nonetheless, they maintained hope and a strong desire to find sought family. Participants resourcefully employed their own search strategies and enlisted the help of the British Red Cross. Adjusting to successfully tracing family members echoed other transitions participants had made to social and legal systems in the UK. Maintaining a sense of purpose in planning for their futures was a common factor for many participants.
These findings have significant implications for unaccompanied young people seeking asylum, emphasising the importance of family tracing and reunion rights for the psychosocial wellbeing of this cohort. Adequate awareness of the implications of family separation and tracing procedures is vital for professionals working with this group to provide appropriate support. Policy revisions are required to broaden conceptualisations of family membership and prioritise the rights of unaccompanied young people as children first and equal citizens.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8756z
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Publication dates
OnlineMay 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Dec 2019
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