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Study highlights harm mothers and their children experience in the UK asylum system

6 June 2022

Muslim mother and her son embrace and enjoy time in the city together.

A PhD research student at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences has found that relationships between mothers and children are strained by the UK’s asylum system, with little support available for mothers.

The paper, written by Laura Shobiye and Samuel Parker, and published by Ethnic and Racial Studies also found that uncertainty in the state’s immigration and asylum system may be a tool used to exert control over asylum seekers and refugees.

The study, written as part of Shobiye’s PhD, highlights how policies may be directed at adults seeking asylum, negatively impacting their children and family relationships.

Citing the ‘hostile environment’ policy, Shobiye’s research found evidence that mothers and children are subjected to an abusive system.

Shobiye said, “For context, this research was conducted before the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 was passed and the Rwanda plan released.

“The situation for asylum seekers is getting worse and the ‘othering’ of asylum seekers is harmful. They are people, just like ‘us’.

“My work was collaborative with the Welsh Refugee Coalition and third sector organisations like Oasis Cardiff, and those with lived experience.

“There is a lot of compassion in Wales and much determination to be a true ‘Nation of Sanctuary’, countering the harsh approach from the Home Office.

I aim to provide useful evidence and information for organisations, communities, and the Welsh Government, all of whom try to find ways to provide some stability and hope for the future for families in Wales claiming asylum.
Laura Shobiye

She has also recently produced a report on the relationship between education and wellbeing for sanctuary-seeking mothers in Wales.

The report has been circulated to the Welsh Government and the working group for Cardiff’s University of Sanctuary project.

Her future work will continue to address the issues facing asylum seekers with the aim of influencing government policy within Wales.

Shobiye concluded, “bell hooks once wrote that oppression is the removal of choice.

“When mothers are forced to seek asylum in the UK, they have no choice. Sanctuary should liberate mothers and provide a better future for their children, instead we have an asylum system that continues to oppress.”

Asylum seekers and refugees in Wales can get local support through Red Cross, Welsh Refugee Council, Oasis Cardiff and Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy and Support.

Read the full paper: Narratives of coercive precarity experienced by mothers seeking asylum in the UK (Wales)

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