A narrative study of social work with African refugees in South London

Mugisha, Charles B. (2014). A narrative study of social work with African refugees in South London. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Qualitative data from two sets of interviews are presented. One is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with Social Workers who work with asylum seekers and refugee families. The second deals with stories of African refugees who attend a Day centre in South London where I was a participant-observer. These “stories” are actual testimonies retold without being interrupted. By telling their stories from their own perspectives, refugees formed narratives, which are self-sufficient and integral (Karamelska and Geiselmann, 2010).

Findings from this study indicate that multiple and sometimes contradictory narratives are confronted by social workers in their direct work with asylum seekers and refugees. Social workers reported the demanding and ethically challenging nature of their work with refugees. They also highlighted structural problems in the work place such as managerialism, bureaucracy, lack of supervision and training. Asylum seekers reported traumatic and life threatening experiences during the pre-migration and flight phases. Others narrated “heroic” stories of suffering and hope and how they had drawn on available resources to rebuild their lives in exile. Rather than simply using refugee stories as a guide to understanding the needs of refugees and asylum seekers, the study recommends that social workers focus on the “story” as a medium through which change can be effected. This process involves moving from uncovering or deconstructing the narrative to externalising and creating an alternative narrative (Fook, 2002: White 2004).

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4829


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