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  • Author or Editor: Patricia Hynes x
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This article consider the experiences of displaced women and children during displacement as well as the issue of trust (or mistrust) throughout their journey towards future emplacement. Interpersonal and broader gender-based violence in politicised contexts is also explored. Various stages of displacement are viewed and, through the use of examples from within refugee camps, host countries and countries of asylum, insights into the lived experiences of the displaced women and children are provided. This article therefore draws on research projects and practitioner experience, including research carried out within refugee camps, in the UK on the dispersal of asylum-seekers, qualitative research into agency responses to the trafficking of children and young people, as well as a scoping study involving qualitative research into non-statutory understandings of trafficking.

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Between liminality and belonging
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This book establishes asylum seekers as a socially excluded group, investigating the policy of dispersing asylum seekers across the UK and providing an overview of historic and contemporary dispersal systems. It is the first book to seek to understand how asylum seekers experience the dispersal system and the impact this has on their lives. The author argues that deterrent asylum policies increase the sense of liminality experienced by individuals, challenges assumptions that asylum seekers should be socially excluded until receipt of refugee status and illustrates how they create their own sense of ‘belonging’ in the absence of official recognition. Academics, students, policy-makers and practitioners would all benefit from reading this book.

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This chapter outlines the geographic social exclusion of asylum seekers as a result of the dispersal policy. It presents figures to provide a descriptive tool and to show how dispersal evolved geographically over time. It argues that the geography of dispersal is a reflection of the exclusionary policy context and the availability of unpopular housing. It also views the design and evolution of the dispersal policy, illustrating the geographical spread of cities involved. It explains that the ultimate geography of dispersal reflects the availability of unpopular or low-demand accommodation encompassing also the exclusionary policy context towards asylum seekers in which the policy is designed.

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This chapter explores the official rationale, structure, and implementation of compulsory dispersal. It observes that separating asylum seekers from the mainstream system of welfare provision has created a more visible group and entrenched the perception of asylum seekers as being somehow ‘outside’ society. It argues that this institutionalised departure from equal access to state provision, separation, and the provision of parallel services specifically for asylum seekers results in social exclusion. It examines the history of dispersing refugees across the UK and it suggests that the contemporary dispersal of asylum seekers is taking place within a qualitatively new environment that has emerged since the mid-1990s and been manifest through several Acts of Parliament.

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This chapter provides an outline of how social exclusion relates specifically to refugees at a global level and how it relates to dispersed asylum seekers. It shows how the introduction of a centralised policy of dispersal has created a qualitatively different environment for asylum seekers. It notes this study is about one of the policy mechanisms — the compulsory dispersal of asylum seekers following the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. It defines the meaning of the social exclusion of refugees — globally, in terms of Europe’s asylum policies, and domestically. It explores asylum and immigration legislation as well as instances of refugees fleeing persecution over the past century. It examines continuities and differences with past cases of dispersal to show how the creation of a qualitatively new environment for people seeking asylum in the UK has occurred since the mid-1990s.

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This chapter outlines how the terms — ‘integration’, ‘resettlement’, ‘belonging’, ‘social inclusion’, ‘social cohesion’, and ‘community cohesion’ are used throughout this book. It explores a number of key concepts that are central to the arguments, in particular the notion of ‘burden-sharing’, liminality, and trust. It explains that social exclusion of asylum seekers and the lack of the ability to re-establish normal routines, during what will be shown throughout this book to be a liminal period during dispersal, relates closely to the creation of a space for trust. It notes that both concepts assist in the understanding of how asylum seekers experience compulsory dispersal. It then highlights the transnational characteristics of social networks of refugees.

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This chapter explores lived experiences of asylum seekers and processes of social exclusion resulting from their dispersal and claims for asylum. It outlines each phase of the dispersal system using qualitative data from asylum seekers and refugees and discusses the overall impact of the dispersal and asylum system. It notes that while NASS has been officially disbanded since 2006, many agency staff and asylum seekers still refer to it to describe the dispersal system and reference to it is therefore retained. It argues that the dispersal system is a study in liminality — or more precisely, ‘policy-imposed liminality’ — because the top-down, ‘one-size-fits-all’ character of dispersal has added an extra layer of liminality to the already difficult asylum process that asylum seekers negotiate.

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This chapter explores the social networks of asylum seekers, and in particular how these are created and maintained during the asylum and dispersal processes. It utilises Marx’s (1990) continuum from total destruction to persistence of social networks over space and time. It shows the quality of social networks to be important and attention is paid to the more intangible benefits of these networks. It argues that, for those asylum seekers who have recourse to social networks, this is the most important way in which they create a sense of ‘belonging’ in the absence of political belonging. It further argues that for those without this recourse, processes of ‘remaking’ belonging are seen. It suggests that gaining a sense of belonging involves a trajectory of different social networks that, over time, shift asylum seekers away from the stigma of the asylum seeker label. It challenges an inherent assumption within the dispersal policy that secondary migration is a negative outcome of dispersal.

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This chapter looks at access to services, demonstrating how temporary access to services adds to the liminal experience of asylum seekers. It outlines the changing entitlements of asylum seekers since the early 1990s, highlighting how the power to define who can access welfare and other services is now based on legal status. It identifies emergent issues in dispersal locations, such as services for domestic violence and mental health, once gender and the intangible barriers to access services have been explored. It argues that the temporary nature of services, along with the monitoring and reporting roles of accommodation providers, maintain asylum seekers in a liminal state. It also argues that the priority for good-quality legal, accommodation, and translation services is indicative of the weaknesses of the dispersal and asylum systems.

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This chapter continues the argument that the asylum and dispersal systems create legislative and policy-imposed liminality. It observes that asylum seekers resist this liminality and different forms of belonging emerge that do not reflect official policy mechanisms designed to ‘integrate’ refugees, and run counter to the government’s social and community cohesion agenda. It uses a theoretical continuum between liminality and belonging to show how there are ongoing and simultaneous processes of policy-imposed liminality and resistance to this imposed sense of liminality as a result of the design of dispersal and other asylum policies. It argues that the trajectory of asylum policy in the UK has increased the chances of liminality and mistrust being experienced. It concludes by bringing together the theoretical, empirical, and conceptual concepts of the preceding chapters.

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