National Report – UK


Immigration, migration and refugee/asylum seekers have become significant features of the 21st century, the International organisation for Migration (Online, 2011) states that, at this moment in history, more people live outside of their country of birth than ever before, and this phenomena is expected to rise.  Documented evidence concludes that more people are migrating, however, the current situation that the world is facing, is due to conflict and not the scenario that would be present in an ideal word, of economic migration or through choice.  In 2015 senior UN official Antonio Guterres (UNHCR, 2015) claimed that the civil war in Syria had unleashed the worst humanitarian crisis the world had ever faced, with an estimated 64 million displaced people throughout the world. The UNHCR (Cockburn, 2015) states that Afghanistan has produced the most refugees over a 30 year period, but Syria has now replaced Afghanistan, it is reported that 1 in 4 refugees worldwide is a Syrian.  Although many European indigenous people believe that the people fleeing have located to their own respective countries, estimates claim that 80% of the displaced people have located to neighbouring ‘developing’ countries (UNHCR, 2010).  Although refugees have been seeking asylum in the UK for many years, the current civil conflict in Syria has highlighted the plight of people seeking refuge, and as aforementioned, uncovered resentments of the indigenous people, not only in the UK, but throughout Europe.

According to the British Red Cross (Online, no date) there are 117,234 refugees currently living in the UK (0.18% of the total population), records from the Home Office (Gov.UK, no date) state that the largest applications for the year ending 2015, came from people who originated from Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. As mentioned above, Syrian refugees are currently the largest displaced population, former Prime Minister David Cameron announced in 2015, that the UK would accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by the year 2020 (BBC News, 2015).  In comparison to France’s intake of 20,000 refugees over a 2 year period, and an estimated 18,000, who arrived in Germany in one weekend alone, the 20,000 to be taken in by the UK seems quite sparse.  It is estimated that between the years 2011 and 2015, 5000 Syrian refugees have been accepted (Ibid, 2015) however, their residency status has not been clarified.  The UK has many different boroughs (a town that is an administrative unit) and each one has government funding for various social requirements.  It appears that the vast majority of Syrian refugees have reportedly been accommodated in Scotland, according to figures, the London local authorities figures show that 33 had been accommodated whilst Scotland’s figure was 600, many other councils refused to accept any refugees (Addley, Pidd, 2016).

In the UK, the main stream media have undertaken a campaign which generates negativity and hostility towards refugees.   Esses, Medianu and Lawson (2013) state that the uncertainty and lack of information that is available to the general population regarding refugees, allows the media and political elite to portray them in an unfavourable light, creating moral panics and portraying them as ‘enemies at the gate’.  Sentiments towards refugees did seem to change when images of the drowned body of toddler Alyan Kurdi, were shared across social media network sites, even helping to change some countries policies towards the refugees, Canada is a good example of this.  Following Alyan’s death, policies were changed and officials decided to allow 25,000 refugees the right to enter and claim asylum (Kingsley, Timur, 2015).

Despite apparent hostilities towards refugees, there are many NGO’s throughout the UK that have implemented projects in order to help them.  The various schemes which are in force to help Refugee youths (in particular), are documented within this report, and are varied and wide.  Schemes which have been sourced offer financial, emotional and practical advice, language courses, integration schemes and workshops which provide creative and  practical (such as learning to cook) opportunities.  Because this work is primarily related to refugee youths, NGO’s were also sourced that provided support for age disputed refugees, this subject has been a bone of contention within the UK, with calls for refugee ‘children’ to have certified, credible documentation detailing their age (Taylor, 2016), which seems very unlikely that people running away from conflict, facing perilous journeys, to have surviving documentation.  In 2012, 40 child asylum seekers who were wrongfully detained in detention centres, were paid out an estimated 2M by the Home Office (Ibid, 2016).  These figures evidence the need for assistance which is provided by the NGO’s.

Youth Work In The Uk

Youths are defined as a young person up the age of 30, according to the EU (European Commission, 2017), programmes and projects that were developed in the UK, with regard to the Papyrus project were researched with this figure in mind.  Many projects involved youths and generally there were no age limits, however, there were a large proportion of programmes that were specifically targeted at refugee youngsters.  Upon further exploration into the programmes it was generally found that many of the projects hired professionals such as: youth workers and counsellors, however these were low in number and it was found that the NGO’s generally, relied heavily on volunteers.  A proportion of the volunteers were undergraduates in ‘caring’ professions, such as social work.

The National Youth Agency (NYA) (Online, no date) states that being a youth worker is the science of empowering young people to believe in themselves and to make correct choices for a beneficial and positive future.  They add that youth work is carried out in youth centres, shopping precincts, schools and colleges, parks and streets, with methods employed such as: decision making, a chance to explore their identities and techniques to improve self-confidence.  As was explored earlier regarding different funding for the many boroughs throughout the UK,  funding for services for young people comes from central government, and each borough uses this as they see fit.  In a government audit commissioned in 2005/2006, it was found that £452M was spent on youth services (Ibid, no date).  A change in government in 2010 from a Labour Government to a coalition government between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives led to ‘austerity’ in the UK, which dictated massive cuts in public spending.  Unison (Online, no date) states that a survey conducted by the government in 2015, concluded that 90% of English councils had cut services for teenagers, this and other austerity factors impacts on youngsters as a whole, making them a group which is at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion.  The funding cuts have had a negative impact on charities who rely on government handouts to provide support for refugees, in a report commissioned by the Refugee Council (2010) they detailed the damage that has been inflicted on the NGO’s, stating that the cuts may decimate the sector.  In addition, the sector is relying largely on volunteers, which may impact on the service that the refugees receive, they may be acquiring help from a person who is not a ‘professional’ in the field which is required.

The NYA (Online, no date) state that the way to become a youth worker in the UK is either as a volunteer, a paid worker, or as an apprentice (earn while you learn), and qualifications are provided for people who work with young people using guidelines, work principles and practice.  This may be a reason also for the large level of volunteers who have been found to be working with the NGO’S.



BBC News (2015) UK to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020. 07 September (Online) (09 May)

British Red Cross (No date) Refugee facts and figures. (Online) (Accessed 02 May)

Cockburn, P. (2015) Refugee crisis: Where are all these people coming from and why? Independent. (07 September)(Online) (Accessed 09 May)

European Commission (2017) Erasmus+ programme guide 2017 (Online) (Accessed 15 May) plus/sites/erasmusplus/files/files/resources/erasmus-plus-programme-guide_en.pdf

Esses, V.M., Medianu, S. & Lawson, A.S. (2013) “Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in Promoting the Dehumanization of Immigrants and Refugees”, Journal of Social Issues, vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 518-536.

Gov.UK (No date) National statistics, Asylum. (Online) (Accessed 02 May)

International Organisation for Migration (2011)(Online)(Accessed 09 May)

Kingsley, P., Timur, S. (2015) Stories of 2015: How Aylan Kurdi’s death changed the world, The Guardian. (Online) (Accessed 15 May)

National Youth Agency (no date) The NYA guide to youth work in England. (Online) (Accessed 15 May)

Taylor, D. (2016) The real refugee scandal is that the UK has been locking up children. The Guardian. (Online) (19 October) (Accessed 15 May)

UNHCR (2010) Global Trends 2010 (Online) (Accessed 15 May)

Unison (no date) A future at risk, cuts in youth services. (Online) (Accessed 15 May)