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Somali Refugee Women’s Perception of Access to Services in the UK

Akua-Sakyiwah, Beatrice (2012) Somali Refugee Women’s Perception of Access to Services in the UK. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract My research explores Somali refugee women’s reported experiences of access to public services in the UK. Since the majority of women in the Somali community are illiterate, I conducted qualitative research involving 50 interviews, (some repeat), between May and July 2010, with 26 Somali refugee women who came to Britain between 1990 and 2009. In this thesis, my analysis roughly follows the chronology of refugee women’s entry into the UK. Therefore I start with access to immigration services. My key finding here is that people who have little experience of the public sphere due to their gender, find themselves in difficult situations when dealing with officials when they arrive in their new environment. The women‘s access to services was strongly impaired, partly due to discrepancies between regulations around immigration and the lived experiences the women had. This was also evident in the context of education services, the topic of my second chapter. Here two key issues emerged. One was the importance of language skills. The other was the contradictory demand of learning about the culture into which the women had moved and being required to hunt for jobs at the same time. Ultimately, only very few women participated in education and employment. However, these are resources that facilitate effective integration, and lacking them had a detrimental effect on my participants. My analysis of the women’s access to housing, the third area I researched, revealed that their preferred social model of congregation had consequences for their settlement. They defied government policies on housing and abandoned their given accommodation to move near relatives and community members. As a result they lost access to services such as education and support towards employment. My discussion of the women’s access to health services demonstrated that cross-cultural issues impacted on that access. Not having previously engaged with first-world style infrastructures, the women had difficulty understanding the UK’s public service system and how it operates. This was complicated by the policy demand of eligibility, which can create confusion and this affected their ability to take advantage of services. Throughout their years in the UK most of the women struggled in their use of services and in their everyday routines and relied heavily on mediation. Such dependency continued to subjugate them and situated them as vulnerable to subordination. In this thesis I argue that lack of education and communication skills create a situation of unequal access to public service utilisation, and this functions to exclude certain minority women in our society.  

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Women's Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.570131
Depositing User: Dr. Beatrice Akua-Sakyiwah
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2013 10:05
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3829

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