Localising Migration: improving service provision and interaction between local authorities and migrant communities in London

Submitting Institution

Roehampton University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Demography, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

This case study focuses on the impact of ethnographic research on migration to the UK from South Asia and Eastern and Central Europe by a team of researchers in sociology at Roehampton. This research has enhanced knowledge of demographic change in British society and has had a significant impact on policy makers and providers in local, national and European policy communities. The research has contributed to changing attitudes, raising awareness, and shifts in policy and practice by local government in London with regards to migration and social inclusion to the capital. It has also contributed to capacity building activities and new policy tools to support social inclusion and labour market integration by new migrant communities in the UK and across the European Union.

Underpinning research

The research underpinning this case study is based on a series of ethnographic studies from 2005 to 2013 by a team of researchers at Roehampton led by Professor John Eade (Roehampton 1973 to date) and including Garapich (Roehampton 2006-10 research officer; 2010- to date lecturer), Shah (ESRC Fellowship at Roehampton 2008-11), Garbin (Roehampton 2004-2006 visiting lecturer; 2006-2009 research officer), Iqbal (Roehampton 2012-present researcher and honorary research fellow), Krotofil (Roehampton 2008 and 2011 researcher) and Chongarova (Roehampton 2008-present researcher and honorary research fellow). The research started as part of the joint Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (CRONEM) between the universities of Roehampton and Surrey and is now part of the research carried out by the Crucible Centre for Human Rights Research at Roehampton. The research explores the impact of migration from both South Asia and Eastern and Central Europe on contemporary urban life in Britain. The research has been supported by, among others, the ESRC and the European Commission (for details of funding, see section 3).

The research has underpinned significant insights into the processes of economic, cultural and social adaptation of migrants to British society over two decades. The research on migration to the UK from Eastern and Central Europe focused on:

  1. Migration strategies and resulting patterns of social integration: the research showed that a high proportion of families remain in the UK but there is also a cluster of male seasonal migrants with different patterns of integration and social needs;
  2. The use of public and other services by new migrants in education, health, political representation and religious space: the research showed a need for better communication strategies between local government and migrants or their representatives;
  3. The economic activity of new migrants: the research showed that migrants' use of advice, job search, integration modes and support relies almost exclusively on informal networks of family, friends and acquaintances rather than formal service support;
  4. Migrants' attitudes towards racial and ethnic diversity in UK: the research highlighted a potential for racial tensions between migrants from Eastern Europe and more established groups of Black Britons;
  5. The relationship between migration, homelessness and social exclusion: the research showed that the size of the migrant homeless population is likely to grow and become more entrenched; and that the anti-institutional practices of the homeless themselves hamper successful engagement with service users.

Similar ethnographic theoretical and methodological approaches informed research on Bangladeshi Muslims, a more established minority, in the UK. This research focused on three areas:

  1. Identity, education and collective memory among the third generation raised in UK;
  2. Public disputes over the building of mosques and other expressions of religious identity and various ways with which religious communities and local authorities negotiate religion in public space and the role of power relations within and between various groups and stakeholders;
  3. Bangladeshi needs with respect to employment, access to the labour market and greater recognition of skills and qualifications.

References to the research

1. Garapich, M. (2013) `Homo sovieticus revisited — anti-institutionalism, alcohol and resistance among Polish homeless men in London'. International Migration; 2013 DOI: 10.1111/imig.12041; REF2.


2. Garapich, M. (2012) `Between cooperation and hostility — constructions of ethnicity and social class among Polish migrants in London', Studia Sociologica V.

3. Eade, J. (2011) `From Race to Religion: Multiculturalism and Contested Urban Space' in J. Beaumont and C. Baker (eds), Postsecular Cities: Space, Theory and Practice, Continuum Resources in Religion and Political Culture.


4. Garapich, M. (2011) `It's a jungle out there. You need to stick together': Anti-Institutionalism, Alcohol and Performed Masculinities among Polish Homeless Men in London', Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, 7 (3).

5. Drinkwater, S., Eade, J. and Garapich, M. (2009) `Poles Apart? EU Enlargement and the Labour Market Outcomes of Immigrants in the United Kingdom', International Migration, 47:1: 161-190. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2435.2008.00500.x; REF2.


6. Garapich, M. (2008) `The Migration Industry and Civil Society: Polish Immigrants in the United Kingdom Before and After EU Enlargement', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34 (5) 735-752. DOI: 10.1080/13691830802105970; REF2.


7. Eade, J. (2013) `Religious place-making and migration across a globalising city: Responding to mobility in London', Culture and Religion 14 (4): 469-83. DOI: 10.1080/14755610.2012.728142.


8. Eade, J. (2010) `Debating fundamentalisms in the global city: Christian and Muslim migrants in London' in N. AlSayyad and M. Massoumi (eds), The Fundamentalist City: Religiosity and the Remaking of Urban Space, New York: Routledge.

Key funding awards:

2011-13 Migrapass, European Commision Leonardo Da Vinci Programme, £43,099 UoR budget, €368,165 project budget — J. Eade (PI), J. Iqbal, M. Garapich (Research Officers).

2010 `Research to inform the development and evaluation of a project to reduce drug and alcohol related harm amongst settled and migrant communities in Waltham Forest', London Borough of Waltham Forest, £39,867 — M. Garapich (PI)

2011 `Mixed Heritage', London Borough of Waltham Forest, £10,000 — J. Krotofil (PI)

2010 `Social and cultural determinants of alcohol abuse among Eastern European migrants in England', Southlands Methodist Centre, £30,000 — J. Eade (PI) M. Garapich (R)

2009 `New communities in Lewisham', London Borough of Lewisham, £23,000 — M. Garapich (PI)

2009 `Social cohesion in Redbridge', London Borough of Redbridge, £12,350 — M. Garapich (PI)

2009 `Study of new communities in Redbridge: migrants from Eastern Europe', London Borough of Redbridge, £18,950 — M. Garapich (PI)

2009 `Bridging the gap', Surrey Police, £24,970 — J. Eade (PI) D. Garbin, M. Garapich, I. Chongarova, D. Garbin (Rs)

2008 `Survey of Polish nationals in England', Institute of Public Policy Research, £12,600 — M. Garapich (PI)

2008 `Ethnicity, Religion and Citizenship: second generation Jains in the UK and USA', ESRC Fellowship, £250,000 — B. Shah

2008 `Preventing violent extremism', London Borough of Merton £20,000.- J. Eade (PI) M. Garapich, D. Garbin, J. Krotofil, S. Carey (Rs).

2007 `Research on A8 migrants in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham', funded by LB of Hammersmith and Fulham, £18,950 — M. Garapich (PI)

2006 BBC Newsnight survey of Polish migrants living in Britain. £3000 — M. Garapich (PI)

2005-2007 `The Religious Lives of Migrant Minorities', 2008-2011 SSRC/Ford Foundation Project The Ford Foundation, £120,000 — J. Eade (PI) A. David, D. Garbin (Co-Is)

2005-2006 `Class and ethnicity among Polish migrants', ESRC £100,000 — J. Eade (PI), S. Drinkwater (Co-I), M. Garapich (R).

Details of the impact

Research undertaken at Roehampton on migration from South Asia and Eastern and Central Europe has had a significant impact on policy and practice. Given the scale of new migration as a result of EU enlargement since 2004, the research has been a timely response to the needs of policy makers. The reach and impact of the research can be demonstrated on three interrelated levels:

  1. The communication of research findings to wider public and policy audiences, in particular, through the media and intermediary organisations has shaped public discourse. The research on patterns of new migration to the UK was reported in The Guardian, Economist, Daily Telegraph, Reuters, Datum (Austrian daily) and widely in the Polish media, and through work commissioned for BBC Newsnight and the Institute for Public Policy Research. The researchers have also worked closely with the Polish Embassy to disseminate research findings from a special issue of Przeglad Polonijny — Studia Migracyjne to a policy-making audience in London (November 2011).
  2. Consultation between researchers and external users through commissioned research and in advisory capacities, leading to a range of policy changes. The research team at Roehampton have been commissioned to carry out research on the social and economic impact of migration by London boroughs of Redbridge, Hammersmith and Fulham, Lewisham, Greenwich and Waltham Forest, as well as for the Southland Methodist Trust. This body of work has had an impact on policy decisions on service provision by local government and other statutory providers in the health and education sectors; and on the work of advice and homeless agencies (e.g. West London Day Centre, Upper Room, Barka, Club 999 and HomelessLink); and ethnic/migrant associations (e.g. Polish Psychologists Association, Jagonari, Bangladeshi Workers Association, Migrants Rights Network).
  3. Collaboration to develop and enrich the impact of research though longer-term partnerships, has influenced practitioners. Working with university and NGO partners in Vienna, Paris, Sophia and Burgos with funding from the European Commission's Leonardo da Vinci programme, the research team at Roehampton has helped to develop a policy `toolkit' (`Migrapass') to empower disadvantaged migrants in labour markets across Europe groups, thereby promoting social inclusion.

The impact of the research in greater detail:

  • The research on the migration strategies and the use of public services by new migrant groups raised the awareness of new migrant social needs among local authorities and other statutory authorities. By providing up-to-date data on the use of public services by new migrant groups, the research team contributed to strategic and longer term planning by local government in the areas of schooling, health, employment services, housing and transport in the years between 2005 and 2010 (Corroborator 1).
  • The research on patterns of social integration and exclusion led to changing policy measures to ensure that service providers adapted to a changing demographic environment. For example, the research assisted the London Borough of Redbridge in addressing the needs of Romanian Roma, whose social habits had led some to congregate in public spaces resulting in community tensions. The research stressed the need to provide space where this group could socialise, and the London Borough of Redbridge successfully lobbied central government in 2009 for additional funds from the Home Office to run the Migration Impact Fund to address the needs of Romanian Roma (Corroborator 1). The study commissioned by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham included an evaluation of the policy of `reconnecting' homeless Polish migrants run by Barka funded by Hammersmith and Fulham. This research showed no evidence that this policy created a local `magnet' effect. The research team advised the council that funding of Barka should continue since it significantly reduced the number of rough sleepers and thereby minimised the potential of health hazards, injuries or deaths, especially during winter. On the basis of this research, Hammersmith and Fulham extended Barka's contract to provide support to new migrant groups and to address health and public safety issues in the community. The research also allowed Barka to extend its work with homeless migrants across London and abroad (Testimonial 2).
  • The research on patterns of social integration and ethnic inter-group relationships enhanced the knowledge and understanding of local policy-makers and supported changes to how local government and other statutory authorities communicated with new migrant communities. Research commissioned by the London Borough of Lewisham provided policy-makers with an account of the negative effects of the undocumented status of some migrants. This strengthened Lewisham's support for the `Strangers into Citizens' campaign (i.e. the regularisation of undocumented migrants). The study for the London Borough of Redbridge was used to establish and implement the Redbridge Social Cohesion Strategy, a strategy essential for forward resource allocation (Reference: Ward). Research for both Lewisham and Redbridge councils identified ethnic tensions between groups of migrants, and subsequently informed the work of both local governments to promote inter-community dialogue and understanding through working with local migrant communities (Corroborator 1. Social cohesion in Redbridge 2009; New communities in Lewisham 2009.)
  • Research on the anti-institutional attitudes and practices of homeless migrants helped staff at day centres to understand the value of the bonds among the homeless and the intimidating power of bureaucratic arrangements that fostered hostility from homeless migrants (Testimonial 2, Corroborator 5). This helped centre staff to devise new ways of engaging migrants to improve their situation and health demonstrating the harm-reducing impact of the research. Centre managers, as well as the umbrella organisation Homeless Link, drew on Roehampton's research to plan workloads in anticipation of the increasing numbers of homeless migrants (which did occur in line with the research findings). Homeless migrants were also helped to voice their concerns about service provision, which strengthened the knowledge of centre staff and built mutual understanding between staff and service users (Corroborator 5. LB Waltham Forest 2010; LB Waltham Forest 2011.)
  • The research on economic and social integration among South Asian and Eastern European migrants led to the development of concrete policy tools to ensure better labour market integration. The research on migrations from Poland and Bangladesh resulted in the team receiving funding from the Leonardo da Vinci Programme for the Migrapass project. This research was a partnership with Autremonde; The Vienna Institute for Urban Sustainability `Oikodrom'; the Institute of Research and Information on Volunteering `Iriv'; the New Bulgarian University; and the University of Burgos. This action research project sought to empower disadvantaged groups by giving them the skills to be more successful in the labour market. The tested tool — the Migrapass Portfolio — has been taken up by three organisations; the Polish Psychologists' Association; the Jagonari women's educational resource centre; and the Bangladeshi Worker's Association, and is now being used as part of their standard services. Through several workshops and sessions with disadvantaged migrants, the project worked with 50 individuals of Polish and Bangladeshi origin. This has improved the day-to-day practices of NGOs in this field, in particular, in relation to outreach work with hard to reach populations and individual migrant communities (Testimonial 3 & 4. `Migrapass' 2011-2013.)

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Corporate Equalities and Cohesion Manager, Redbridge Council.
  2. Chief Executive Officer, Barka UK.
  3. Director, Polish Psychologists' Association.
  4. Community Development Manager, Bangladeshi Workers Association.
  5. Senior Project Worker, West London Day Centre.

Reports; web links on homelessness study: