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Title: Unaccompanied asylum seeking young people (UASYP) from the Horn of Africa
Author: Tadesse, M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 5665
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis describes a qualitative pilot research study that examines the experiences of UASYP from the Horn of Africa exiled in the UK. It focuses on the issues of adolescence and identity, taking a psychosocial perspective. There is currently limited information concerning the identity formation and psychosocial development of these particular groups of asylum seekers, who are forced to leave their countries alone largely due to conflicts and persecution. They represent a specific section of the refugee population, being that they are forced to leave their home and families to experience the transition from childhood to adulthood in exile without their families. Once resettled in the UK their multiple needs are then met by local authorities within the context of fostering or semi-independent care. Data was gathered from multiple sources: (i) semi-structured interviews with 15 UASYP aged between 15 in 17 (ii) analysis of existing research and (iii) analysis of relevant documents. The psychosocial wellbeing and identity construction of the UASYP was investigated through the application of an overarching theoretical framework. This framework combined the traditional psychological theories of adolescence and identity development along with Erikson's psychosocial theory and Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological model. The aim was to gain an insight into risk factors and positive influences by applying Berkowitz's model and Papadopoulos's six phases of The Refugee Trauma and The Trauma Grid (AAD). My findings confirmed resilience to be the outcome of the multiplicity of positive relationships within different settings, from the micro to macro systems wherein, primitive and protective roles are encountered and relationships established with the UASYP's a) supervising social workers, b) peers/ school/ teachers c) foster carers/ key workers and d) community affiliates. Findings revealed that the UASYP selected unique elements from their background history, language, religion and culture, which are then employed as positive factors to influence and to develop buffers to deal with the adversities of separation, loss and racism. These were transformed as catalysts by the UASYP to arouse and encourage different levels of consciousness for the retrieval of these unique elements. These are employed to counteract any negative influences. The findings indicate that the UASYP made conscious decisions to move away from their initial feelings of rejection and being ostracised amongst different groups in their new settings. They did so until they reached the point where they felt motivated and able to counteract and reinforce their own preferences, not only in how they wanted to define themselves, but also to identify where they felt that they belonged in exile. This pilot study revealed that the UASYP, preferred to use their self-assigned title or category. Thus, in this context, it is their old ethnicity, which is seemingly employed to define their new identity in exile. Findings also revealed that the UASYP are separated from the majority and minority cultures of their home country during their pre-migration phase and repositioned in their new settings where they experience changes in their socio-political contexts. During the post-migration period, the UASYP constructed their ethnic identity within their new socio-political contexts, which encouraged them to choose a more dispassionate or rather impartial positioning. This pilot study challenges the existing notion, which has suggested that individuals within a multicultural society gravitate towards the majority culture, for refugee status is likely to condemn the UASYP to a life of hostility, confusion and mental ill health. The findings confirmed that despite the challenges, the containment of the UASYP within the ecological environment of the care system provides them with the necessary support, which benefits their psychosocial development and identity construction. The findings justify the conclusion that the formation of their ethnic identity is the combination of their historical, cultural and ethnic as well as religious backgrounds, and that these interface with the cultural climate of the UK society. The data from this pilot study can now be utilised to inform and influence practitioners, policy makers and researchers and will provide a useful resource for further research in a number of related fields.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available