Making a New Life in Newham: A Study Investigating the Factors that Facilitate and Prevent Young Refugee Settlement in Newham
This paper investigates settlement of young refugees in the London borough of Newham. The project sets out to answer the following questions: (1) What is the meaning of settlement? (2) What are the factors that facilitate settlement? (3) What are the barriers to settlement? The research is based on interviews with 25 participants aged 13 to 19 from Sierra Leone, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Lithuania, and Albania. The study starts with a definition of settlement and a discussion of factors that facilitate the process of settlement, such as language schooling, security, peer interaction, freedom of faith and support by counselling organisations. In terms of barriers to settlement, absence of guaranteed immigration status, inability to communicate and lack of networks are named as the most important factors preventing the integration of young refugees. The paper concludes with a list of recommendations concerning different areas of young people's wellbeing:
- Places in mainstream schooling need to be made available to young refugees as soon as possible after their arrival. This is to ensure that young refugees have access to the benefits of language support, the whole curriculum and social contact to facilitate their integration into the host community.
- Host communities should have an ongoing programme of education and awareness-raising about the positive contributions that refugees can make to the community.
- Professionals supporting young refugees need to be aware of and able to respond to the religious needs of a young person.
- Funding needs to be made available for social activities for young refugees e.g. summer trips, residential and cultural outings. These help to provide young refugees with opportunities for developing relationships and combating isolation, as well as initiating social contact and getting an understanding of different aspects of life in the UK.
- Young refugees should be given the support, advice and representation necessary for their asylum claim to be judged fairly.
- Immigration decisions should be made with the long-term best interests of the child in mind.
- Adequate training should be provided for Home Office staff to ensure that all decisions made with regard to young