Understanding the experiences of asylum seekers

Helen Liebling, Shani Burke, Simon Goodman, D. Zasada

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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the key issues of concern for asylum seekers in the UK by focusing on their in depth talk about their experiences, a so far neglected element in the current debate about asylum seeking. Design/methodology/approach – The study involved thematic analysis of asylum seekers’ accounts of their lives in their country of origin, their journeys to the UK and experiences following arrival. Nine participants took part in semi-structured interviews. Findings – Analysis resulted in seven themes; the importance of safety, negative experiences of the Home Office, support, emotional effects, significance of family, hopes for the future and the positive experiences of living in the UK. Research limitations/implications – Asylum seekers largely left their countries of origin to escape conflict, persecution, violence, arranged marriages and rape. They reported safety as a key concern and for this reason they were scared to return home. Practical implications – The research found Asylum seekers have fled traumatic situations and then have a difficult time in the UK. A more compassionate and supportive approach is needed. Policy recommendations are made with the aim of improving service responses. Social implications – The research demonstrates that the public understanding of asylum seeking does not match asylum seekers’ experiences and increased knowledge may help to improve this (mis) understanding. Originality/value – There is currently a lack of literature and empirical investigation of this subject area, so this research makes a contribution to the field of understanding asylum seekers’ experiences. The paper's focus is original and important combining asylum seekers’ accounts of their experiences following arrival in the UK. This subject is strategically important due to the pressing need to develop holistic and culturally sensitive research, which bridges and informs academia, more sensitive service responses and civil society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)207-219
    JournalInternational Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

    Bibliographical note

    This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here (please insert the web address here). Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


    Richard Benjamin Trust (Ref 1106)


    • UK
    • Experiences
    • Understanding
    • Asylum seekers
    • Thematic analysis


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