New research for the Refugee Council published
12 August 2022
The University's Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB), in partnership with the Refugee Council, has launched three new reports on Digital Service Provision in the Refugee Youth Sector.
The externally funded project conducted over a two-year period looked at the digital needs and experiences of refugee sector staff and young refugee clients and developed bespoke training on how to deal with emotions in digital spaces when working with clients in vulnerable situations.
The CMRB and Refugee Council also developed digital literacy and equity activities. Two alumni of the Masters in Refugee Studies who currently work at the Refugee Council (RC) participated in the capacity of research assistants and practitioners.
Professor Giorgia Dona, co-director of the CMRB, said,
We adopted an integrated approach to document how young refugees, charity staff, and the organisation responded to the pandemic, and shifted the ways in which it provided protection and social care from face-to-face to digital delivery. We were able to implement the recommendations of our situational analysis and develop bespoke training for staff and multi-lingual resources for young refugees. Thus, the project had a positive impact on practice and the promotion of digital equity."
The first project documented the digital experiences of asylum-seeking young people and practitioners since the Covid-19 pandemic; the second addressed the issue of working with emotions online in service provision; and the third promoted digital equality for young asylum seekers and refugees.
Key points from 'Life is not just normal as before': Covid-19 and digital service provision in the charity sector
- Ensuring young people had access to mental health support was essential as the pandemic presented yet another obstacle in their complex lives. For young people, being able to access services in their own space and time was also considered an advantage.
- As services began to transition online, many young people needed to learn basic computer skills as they were computer illiterate. Foster carers and key workers were often relied upon to support them with this.
- This project addressed a gap in the understanding of how charities, specifically the RC, transitioned to online service delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Key points from 'Innovative Technologies and Digital Equality: Supporting Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children to Achieve Digital Proficiency'
- There are wide differences in the level of exposure unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have had to technology which appear to be due to the varying social-economic backgrounds. Some had limited digital skills while others had none whatsoever.
- Resources must be multi-lingual and user friendly and should be tailored towards different levels of digital knowledge and experience.
- Support from practitioners and peers can also contribute to improved levels of digital skills. Funding for digital skills workshops will also ensure digital equity is achieved.
Key points from 'Working with Emotions in Digital Spaces'
- Young people who have experienced trauma and/or experience intense emotions can benefit from grounding techniques, starting with the five senses, and focusing on breathing.
- The person working with the youth needs to ensure that they are not contributing to anything that could be detrimental to the outcome of the session, such as mirroring.
- The worker must be aware that the young person potentially has the risk of Online Disinhibition Effect, if they spot the youth presenting these characteristics, they need to help them set boundaries and stop engaging in it.
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