Exploring the Processes that Nurture the Resilience of Young Refugees Living in the UK
Literature on young refugees has predominantly focused on pathology, symptom reduction and barriers for accessing services and help-seeking. In recent decades there has been a paradigm-shift towards exploring factors that promote resilience of young refugees, however little is known about mechanisms that underlie these, and research has been critiqued for its focus on individual attributes of resilience. This research aimed to explore processes that nurture resilience of young refugees living in the UK, using a social ecological framework. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 young refugees aged 14-24 living in the UK. Data was analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology. A theoretical model was co-constructed, showing a complex, dynamic, reciprocal interaction of processes. This incorporated culturally meaningful processes that preceded living in the UK and which participants continued to draw on: ‘seeking out rest and relief to go on’, ‘family togetherness sustaining’ and ‘comparing difficult experiences’, leading to ‘seeing the world anew’. Through this, ‘being seen’ then allowed for other processes to be facilitated, such as ‘being protected from racism and bullying’, ‘being connected to people with shared backgrounds’ and ‘making new connections’. This was constructed to have an interdependent interaction with ‘improving English language’ and ‘being shown the ways of living in UK’ which fed into ‘developing adaptability’. As a result, ‘giving and giving back’ and ‘recognising a promising future’ were the processes that followed. The findings point towards important practical implications for anyone working with young refugees as well as policymakers, who have a powerful influence on the way refugees are perceived and consequently interacted with.
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