“The Glue That Holds it All Together”, Service Providers Experiences of Refugee Integration in Inverurie
The contentious issue of refugee resettlement in the UK is now well-explored, with major shifts in attitudes, policy and practice across the last decade (Kyrzyzanowski et al 2015, Kirkwood 2017). However, building on Ross’s (2020) research on rural Syrian migrants that examined the “two-way nature” of community integration on the Isle of Bute, this research attempts to broaden these horizons and produce effective insight for policy development. The under-researched nature of rural integration for refugees was well established in Ross’s (2020) research, with positive recommendations made for more considered future policy, however this dissertation develops our understandings of the role of service providers and their place in integration and multicultural interaction for communities. This study aims to illustrate not just the experiences of refugees and receiving communities, but the key actor working with them. It provides an in-depth view of their experiences, beliefs and personal stories, but also drawing on their professional knowledge in considering better approaches to wider policy-based outcomes. The data collected from the interviews provided views into the nature of providers place in the process, refugees evolving needs, and the serious structural and social shortcomings in the rural provision system. Positive outcomes were generated through comparison to the Indicators of Integration framework produced by Ndofor-tah et al (2019) which shows that key foundational issues for refugees such as functional language provision and opportunities require focus on a policy-level. However, the lack of organisational structure surrounding reliance on the third sector and long-term issues of attitudes of “vulnerability” around the refugees require a complete rework of how to approach key underpinnings and support for local provision in rural areas. Recommendations of better access to functional language classes were a key point in the interviews. Furthermore, Interviewees all saw recognition of refugee's previous job experience as a major issue. refugee-focused bodies which assist work re-integration have been recommended as a step in the right direction to encourage social bridges and bonds and assist refugees' economic development. While lack of face-to-face interviews created issues, the nature of the current pandemic dictates that safety must be of the first concern, and the vast professional experience of the interviewees provided highly effective data.