Niroshan Ramachandran – Asylum Seekers and Refugees’ Perceptions and Experiences of Social Protection Services in the UK: the case of Liverpool and Glasgow

Niroshan is a first year PhD student in the Department of Social Sciences. I am enthusiastic to be part of Edge Hill University RITA GTA scheme (2017-2020) because it provides an opportunity to improve both my research and academic career. Formerly, I worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and ZOA International in Sri Lanka to support refugees, return migrants, irregular migrants and internally displaced people. Having spent my professional career supporting migrants, I realised my passion goes towards working for vulnerable people. As a result, I carried out my Master’s degree research in the UK (University of Lincoln, Jan-Jun 2016) on the experiences of social workers working with asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. It was completed as a partial requirement of the Erasmus Mundus MA Advanced Development in Social Work degree (Sep 2014 – Jul 2016). Moreover, I personally believe in social change and shared responsibility to support vulnerable communities, therefore, my PhD research focuses on asylum seekers’ and refugees’ perceptions and experiences of the formal social protection in Glasgow and Liverpool.

Currently, harsh migration controls, anti-immigrant policies and restrictions on service provision are challenging asylum seekers’ and refugees’ access to formal social protection in the host countries. In the UK, several new policies have also been promoted to regulate the social protection services for asylum seekers and refugees. Hence, the extent to which the formal social protection for refugees and asylum seekers is achieved in the UK needs to be understood and examined. This research will examine two main questions: How does formal social protection function in a restricted environment to provide support for asylum seekers and refugees? How do asylum seekers and refugees perceive and experience formal social protection support provided by the service providers?

In this qualitative research, focus group discussions, semi-structured interview, participant observation and field note will be used as data collection methods. Asylum seekers, refugees and key informants from Glasgow and Liverpool will be identified as the participants of this research. This research adopted a predominant focus on the perceptions and experiences of asylum seekers and refugees, as it will be beneficial in exploring and examining the contemporary struggles within the restricted resource environment in the UK. However, it will also include key informants to explain their point of views that are attached to the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees. A triangulated approach in this research will help to understand the full picture and/or provide detailed insights into different dimensions in the formal social protection.