Shifting perceptions: Participatory research with unaccompanied asylum seeking young people living in foster care in the United Kingdom.

Justin Rogers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper presents the process and the outcomes of a participatory action research project with a group of unaccompanied asylum seeking young people living in foster care. The research took place in the south west of England with young people who attended a peer support group, facilitated by a charitable fostering agency.

The agency were experiencing difficulties in recruiting enough new foster carers who were willing to look after increased numbers of young people seeking asylum. There was also some reluctance from their existing carers to foster this group too. Practitioners in the agency felt that some of the carers held negative perceptions and stereotypes about refugee and asylum seekers, which prevented them from offering placements. The aim of this project was to help shift these perceptions through participatory action research. To achieve this, the research team participated with the group in a range of activities, from art workshops to climbing. This allowed us to develop a rapport and build trust with young people, which was vital as the young people had experienced trauma in their countries of origin and some of the participants had been trafficked and exploited during their journeys to the UK.

Alongside these activities, we undertook a photo-voice project where the young people took photographs to show aspects of the day-to-day lives that were important to them. The photographs were then used to promote the young peoples’ voices in an attempt to de-mystify the labels of refugees and asylum seekers. This project had an impact in two key ways; Firstly, the images were presented to a focus group of existing foster carers in order to better inform their understanding of the young peoples’ day to day experiences in foster care; Secondly, the photographs were developed into posters, which were shown at community events and exhibited in community spaces during refugee week, in order to generate interest in fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2017
EventEuropean Conference for Social Work Research - University of Aalborg, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 19 Apr 201721 Apr 2017


ConferenceEuropean Conference for Social Work Research


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