Religion in the lives of unaccompanied minors: an available and compelling coping resource
Author(s): M. Ni Raghallaigh
Anecdotal evidence suggests that religion plays an important role in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees. However, little research has been conducted in this area. Drawing on the work of Pargament (1997) and on interviews undertaken with unaccompanied minors living in the Republic of Ireland, this article shows how religious coping is both a 'relatively available' and a 'relatively compelling' way for these young people to deal with the challenges that they face. Religious faith and practice served as a source of continuity in their lives, with belief in God representing something familiar within a largely unfamiliar context. In addition, the young people's relationships with God provided them with a sense of meaning and comfort and an increased sense of control. Overall, religious coping helped the young people to deal with the challenging circumstances with which they were faced. The findings suggest that the religious beliefs of asylum seeking and other social work clients need to be better understood so that these beliefs can be appropriately integrated into practice situations.