Vulnerability, migration and well-being: experiences, perceptions and barriers

Researchers: Dr Laurence Lessard-Phillips | Dr Antje Lindenmeyer ...

Project overview


This project will identify the factors shaping the well-being of individuals at risk of vulnerability, including asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, and will examine the impact of the hostile environment.

An individual can be defined as vulnerable when they are significantly likely to experience harm while having insufficient ability or means to protect themselves. Vulnerability can be increased by factors such as lack of eligibility for services, homelessness, being trafficked or a history of poverty. Undocumented migrants and asylum seekers are at particularly high risk of vulnerability, and this has been exacerbated by the ‘hostile environment’ in the UK, where individuals unable to prove their legal right to remain face significant barriers to accessing healthcare, welfare benefits, employment and housing. Estimates suggest that the population of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers in the UK is increasing, but very little is known about these groups as they do not feature in official statistics.

A pilot project drawing on data from service users of Doctors of the World UK clinics found that these groups tended to present a significantly worse health profile than the general population, experience economic hardship and face issues in accessing healthcare. This has set the foundations for this project that will identify the factors shaping well-being of groups at risk of vulnerability from 2011 onwards.

The approach is based on co-production, involving close partnership with DOTW UK and engagement with NGOs, policymakers and migrant health experts.  In-depth interviews with the volunteers completing the questionnaire during consultations and analysis of free-text notes from the questionnaires will complement and deepen understanding of comprehensive quantitative analysis of the DOTW UK data on the factors that influence service users’ well-being.

This novel project will generate unique knowledge and understanding of the circumstances of a hard to reach population, the impact of the hostile environment, and provide evidence supporting the development of appropriate research, policy, and practice responses to the well-being of populations at risk of vulnerability.

Team


  • Dr Laurence Lessard-Phillips
    University of Birmingham
  • Dr Antje Lindenmeyer
    University of Birmingham
  • Professor Jenny Phillimore
    University of Birmingham
  • Lin Fu
    Doctors of the World UK

  • Alex Beer
    Senior Consultant, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

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COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.