This week, 17th-23rd June,  is Refugee Week, a UK wide event that attempts to counter the negative perceptions of refugees and asylum-seekers held by the general public in Britain and promote the benefits refugees bring to their host communities.

IARS’ is pleased to announce our forthcoming publication of new research on refugee women’s experiences of GP and solicitor services in London as part of our Comic Relief funded Refugee Women’s Action Research project. As it is Refugee Week, we thought we would provide you with a preview of this new report. To receive updates about this project and to be notified when this report is published, please sign up to our newsletter.

The research was steered and overseen by a group of 12 refugee women, who volunteered on the project as community researchers. The investigation was based on a mixed-methods approach, including a desk-based review of existing literature on refugee women’s experiences in the UK and how gender and experiences of gender-related violence impact on their experiences. Qualitative fieldwork interviews were then conducted with 46 refugee women living in London about their experiences of GP and solicitor services.

The new report, Not Enough Time to Talk, explores refugee women’s experiences of GP and solicitor services in order to identify a gender-sensitive approach to working with refugee women in these two areas of service provision.

 

"Due to the experiences I have had before, you can’t trust people it is very very hard, so you can have so many questions before you feel confident with someone, you can’t really tell them your problems and maybe you don’t want them to be close to you and maybe they are ok, but you are too scared".

 

The study discusses the crucial factors to effective interactions with GPs and solicitors in relation to refugee women's underlying mental health problems and their experiences of gender-related violence. The key factors that are explored are the importance of building trusting relationships; of being listened to; displays of empathy; and the significance of gender.

"Most of the things in my life I couldn’t talk to the GP about it, I sit and waiting for one day when I can meet with a female GP so I can give more information."

 

The research goes on to explore specific challenges that refugee women face when accessing GP and solicitor services, such as problems with registering with GP practices, a need for longer consultations with GPs and the prevalence of refugee women paying for legal help from private solicitors as a result of a lack of awareness of their entitlements to legal aid.

Not Enough Time to Talk provides an insight into what refugee women themselves require from professionals and service providers; what makes them feel safe and listened to and what makes it easier for them to access the services and support they need. The report puts forward recommendations for aspects of service delivery that could be altered or improved in order that refugee women are provided with the specialist services and support they need.

You can view two videos of our volunteers speaking about the significance of the study on our YouTube channel:  the first is about the general needs of refugee women dealing with GPs and solicitors and the second is about the importance professionals’ communicating emotional understanding.

If you are working with refugee women, some useful reading could be the good practice guide developed within this project by IDRICS and IARS , which seeks to support refugee and asylum-seeking women (RASW) in undertaking action research into the most pressing needs faced by women who are refugees or asylum-seekers.

 

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