The COVID-19 pandemic has shown there was a lack of clear access of digital resources, language barriers, and adequate wellbeing support for refugees who were part of the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) says a new report from the University of Birmingham.
As part of ongoing research conducted by the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) the study concluded that with the advent of the pandemic and the introduction of social distancing and lockdown in March 2020, Community Sponsorship groups were challenged to offer alternative support to refugees in new ways. As the pandemic took place emerged and evolved, volunteers, the majority of whom are retired or semi-retired realized that many refugees faced language barriers or were unable to access information digitally. With some volunteers and refugees needing to shield themselves and many services moving to remote provision, these groups faced a situation very different from that for which they had planned.
The study also found how the mental health of many refugees had deteriorated as expected during the pandemic but it was more difficult for refugees as they were already experiencing psychological problems associated with experiences of conflict, loss, and isolation as lockdown was overwhelming for refugees already struggling with trauma.
Some local groups did try and offer support such as introducing refugees to activities such as gardening and birdwatching to help with their wellbeing, but such resources were not available to all.
Jenny Phillimore, Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham, commented: “The pandemic challenged CS volunteers in unexpected ways. Offering support from a distance, when it was designed to be in person and trying to look after the health and wellbeing of both refugees and volunteers was extremely difficult.”
Read more at Phys.org.