Neighbourhood experiences of new immigration: reflections from the evidence base
- Neighbourhood experiences of new immigration: reflections from the evidence base
- Robinson, David; Reeve, Kesia
- Sheffield Hallam University
- Feb 2006
The overall objective of this review is to discuss the impact of new immigration on community dynamics, everyday actions, interactions, relationships and experiences at the neighbourhood level.
A preliminary review demonstrated that evidence on the consequences and experiences of new immigration at the neighbourhood level was limited and so it was extended to include evidence on three core issues: social justice and life in neighbourhoods; social justice and immigration; and life in neighbourhoods and immigration. The last category involved identifying key lessons of significance relating to previous immigration streams to the UK. The review draws on existing evidence from a number of policy and research areas including; housing, urban policy, regeneration and renewal, immigration and asylum, race equality and race relations and community development. A range of documents were used: academic studies and journal papers, policy-oriented research reports, policy documents, guidance notes, strategy statements, good practice papers and position statements issued by Government and local and national service providers and campaign groups. Key agencies and organisations were consulted in order to identify further evidence. Most of the assertions made by the authors are broad conclusions which reflects the limits of what can be inferred from the evidence base. However, where possible, more specific findings are made.
Contemporary immigration is characterised by smaller numbers of people from a wider range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds arriving from a diversity of locations that they have left for a variety of reasons [to escape persecution, to take up employment, to be near family members]. Certain groups might not posses the numbers necessary to forge a recognisable cluster at the local level, particularly if dispersed to different towns and cities by NASS [the National Asylum Support Service]. Living in minority ethnic population clusters [or with others who have a shared experience of persecution or discrimination] brings a number of benefits for new migrants. Current public policy emphasises the importance of restricting ethnic residential segregation and there has been a shift towards a more assimilationist approach to immigrants which has a number of drawbacks. There is a general policy of settling immigrants in socially and economically deprived neighbourhoods. Many of the 39 New Deal for Community Areas for example, designated on the basis of being some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, are home to relatively large numbers of people seeking and granted asylum. The settlement of new immigrant households in deprived neighbourhoods can create particular challenges for service providers, who might already be struggling to meet the needs of the existing population. If asylum seekers and refugees are clustered together then agencies can target their resources more effectively. 'Residential drift' has taken place amongst Ugandan and Vietnamese refugees who want to be closer to existing populations. Some individuals forgo NASS support so that they can remain near established populations.
Some other key findings are:
• media portrayals of new immigrants can fuel local tensions and create a hostile environment;
• people seeking and granted asylum and refugee status are over-represented in the population of people living in temporary accommodation;
• refugees often become homeless once they are granted status as they have to leave their NASS accommodation;
• new migrants often live in neighbourhoods that are unsafe for them, are unable to access the services that they need and face barriers to employment;
• the settlement of new immigrants can provide an impetus for the regeneration of neighbourhoods and community tensions are not an inevitable consequence of the arrival of new immigrants in to an area.
The review identifies some general lessons for managing new immigration at the neighbourhood level:
• community relations can be promoted by preparing host communities before the arrival of new immigrants;
• tensions are more likely to arise in deprived neighbourhoods with little history of minority ethnic settlement;
• government agencies, local institutions and service providers need to be mindful of the unforeseen impact of policy and practice on the experiences and consequences of new immigration;
• the media portrayal of new immigrants has an important impact on the experiences of new immigration at the local level.
A number of gaps in the evidence base exist which need to be filled in order to develop appropriate policy; the demographic profiles of new immigrants, their skills and statuses need to be identified. The experiences of new immigrants at the neighbourhood level and the conditions that they are living in need to be documented. Evidence also needs to be collected on the settlement patterns of new immigrant groups, and the interaction between new immigrant groups and the existing population. There needs to be a review and evaluation of local initiatives designed to manage changing populations. Finally, it is also necessary to maintain an awareness of how the experiences of new migrants differ on the basis of ethnicity, country of origin, cultural identity and resident status.
- Resource Type
- Research report
- Funded By
- Joseph Rowntree Foundation (Charitable Trust)
- Contact Details
- York Publishing Services, 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe, York, YO31 7ZQ. tel: 01904 430033
- £ 14.95