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Living in the shadow of political decisions: Former refugees’ experiences of supporting newly arrived minors
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Social Work. Umeå Universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0106-2839
2019 (English)Conference paper, Poster (with or without abstract) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Living in the shadow of political decisions: Former refugees’ experiences of supporting newly arrived minors

Background and aim: Steady streams of refugees and unaccompanied minors, of which the great majority are boys, come to Sweden, mostly from Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. Among the arrivals, there are boys with traumatic experiences. It is a challenging task for the society to promote health, empowerment and integration of these minors. With the intention to support their integration in the society, the organisation Save the Children formed special meeting places for unaccompanied minors in 2018 in three municipalities in Sweden. There, the minors had the opportunity to engage in different activities. In addition, psychosocial support was offered. The leaders for the activities at these meeting places were recruited among former refugees who themselves had arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied minors. Research is sparse concerning how foreign-born leaders’ experience how it is to support the integration of the newly arrived minors. Thus, the aim of the study was to explore the perceptions of the meeting place leaders, also former refugees, when supporting newly arrived minors’ integration in society.

Methods: This is a qualitative study in which interviews were conducted with leaders, also former refugees, at the meeting places for unaccompanied minors in municipalities. Data were analysed using network analysis.

Results: Based on the preliminary analyses of the interviews, a thematic network was developed. Basic themes were identified, which in turn generated four organising themes and one global theme. The organising themes were ‘integrating together’, ‘keep going’, ‘living in no man’s land’ and ‘being proud helping others’. The four organising themes were then clustered into the global theme of ‘living in the shadow of political decisions’. Although they all expressed a frustration concerning the migration politics, they all perceived the helping role as very important and connected to positive emotions.

Conclusion and implications: The findings show the massive impact from the national political decisions concerning the right to stay permanently or temporary, which affected the daily lives of the newly arrived at the meeting places and demanded an attitude of never-ending hope in leaders. Despite being forced to deal with difficult emotions - such as despair - the results underscored the important role of feeling proud to help others. Furthermore, the own experiences of being a refugee were valued and shared in meeting the unaccompanied minors. The integration process is generally complex, and further studies of what is helpful in the integration process are needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Health and Welfare
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-29556OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-29556DiVA, id: diva2:1291025
Conference
European Conference for Social Work Research 2019 (ECSWR), 10-12 april, Leuven, Belgium
Available from: 2019-02-22 Created: 2019-02-22 Last updated: 2019-02-25Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • chicago-author-date
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  • Other style
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Language
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