New migration: improving policy and practice on integration and access to welfare provision

Submitting Institution

University of Birmingham

Unit of Assessment

Social Work and Social Policy

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Demography, Policy and Administration

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Summary of the impact

This research has enabled more effective integration of refugees and other new migrants into society both at individual level by helping individual migrants to gain access to employment and improved social welfare provision, and at a strategic level by influencing the development of policy initiatives around refugee employment, mental health and migrant access to maternity services. The research has employed innovative methods to engage migrants in research about integration and in work to influence policy, thereby shaping national and local (Birmingham and West Midlands) integration policy and practice.

Underpinning research

Impact was generated from four example research projects led by Professor Jenny Phillimore, Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, (employed 1998) and Dr Lisa Goodson, Lecturer (1999), both in the School of Social Policy:

1) A transnational project funded by the EU under its EQUAL programme matched with funds from the Home Office which compared approaches to refugee integration in the EU and then developed a pathway approach that was piloted in the UK (2004-2008). This project identified initiatives that were key to successful integration, namely the need for holistic programmes that brought together language training, work experience and volunteering, and accreditation of prior and experiential learning (APEL).

2) The Making a Difference project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2006-2007). In this project the team trained refugees from 18 community organisations in accredited post-graduate research skills and worked with migrant and refugee community groups to identify a research agenda around areas they considered to be of most importance to refugee integration. Under the supervision of mentors the community researchers collected qualitative data about refugee mental health and access to language training. Once the data were analysed the research team worked with a new community group to use this evidence to make a difference to regional and local refugee integration policy. The project identified flaws in the Learning and Skills Council's ESOL monitoring system and major gaps in support for refugees with mental health problems.

3) Healthy and Wealthy Together was sponsored by the EU INTI fund (2009-2011). This project brought together partners from eight different EU cities working together to identify mechanisms to improve migrants access to healthcare. Through the Birmingham partnership the collation and analysis of new migrant Flag 4 data was achieved, giving Birmingham City Council and health providers a sense of the scale and location of new migration.

4) Migrant Maternity project funded by the Department of Health (2009-2010). This project looked at the experiences of migrants using the maternity system in the UK and identified gaps in services and documented the challenges that maternity professionals experienced trying to support migrants. It highlighted the key role of civil society organisations in supporting pregnant migrants and how migration status rather than ethnicity was a key determinant of the maternity experience. This project has led to changes in local and national policy and practice with others still emerging. The findings have been presented at a House of Commons Inquiry into Asylum Support for Families (see source 6 below) and, as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2012, to commissioners, midwives, trainers and other maternity professionals at events in the Department of Health West Midlands and City Hospital (60 attendees plus a further 70 at a recent event on migrant families).

The culmination of this body of research has led to the development of a new University of Birmingham Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) in 2012, directed by Jenny Phillimore, and the development of a new Practitioner Research Programme, led by Lisa Goodson.

References to the research

Research Outputs:

R1) Newall, D., Phillimore, J., and Sharpe, H. (2012) `Migration and maternity in the age of superdiversity', The Practising Midwife, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 20-23 [available from HEI on request]

R2) Phillimore, J. (2011) `Refugees, acculturation and integration', Journal of Social Policy, vol. 40, no. 3, pp.575-593 [DOI: 10.1017/S0047279410000929]


R3) Phillimore, J. and Goodson, L. (2008) `Making a place in the global city: the relevance of indicators of integration', Journal of Refugee Studies, vol. 21, pp. 305-325 [DOI: 10.1093/jrs/fen025]


R4) Phillimore, J. and Goodson, L. (2008) New migrants in the UK: education, training, employment, policy and practice. Trentham Books [available from HEI on request]

R5) Goodson, L. and Phillimore, J. (2010) `A community research methodology: working with new migrants to develop a policy related evidence base'. Social Policy and Society, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 489-501 [DOI: 10.1017/S1474746410000217]


R6) Goodson, L. and Phillimore, J. (2012). Community research for participation: from theory to method. Bristol: Policy Press [available from HEI on request].


Research Grants:

• Phillimore, J (PI) Making a difference: empowering Birmingham MCO's in the use of evidence for change activity, Sponsor: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, January 2006 - March 2007, £84,944.

• Goodson, L (PI) with Phillimore, J. (CI) Healthy and Wealthy Together: developing common European modules on migrants' health and poverty. Sponsor: Commission of the European Communities, December 2009 - May 2011. £44,402.

• Phillimore, J (PI) Maternity Services for Migrant Women. Sponsor: Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust, November 2009 - March 2010. £25,001.

Details of the impact

The impact of our new migration research has reached policy makers, practitioners and communities, shaping policy and practice around migrant integration.

1) Equal project (sources 3 and 11)

The research findings were used to construct a refugee employability pathway: a model that provided a holistic approach to returning skilled refugees to employment in their area of expertise. A report was disseminated at the National Refugee Integration Forum (NRIF) in 2007 (30 members) which led to the first national integration programme in the UK in 2008 (Refugee Employment and Integration Service with 43 offices). Working with partner organisations, including FE Colleges, Jobcentre Plus, the Trellis Project and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the research team established five pilot employability pathways for refugees in the West Midlands. They focused upon general construction; general maintenance; social research; business administration; and nursing pre-adaptation. The pathways brought together elements of good practice from across the EU in a multi-dimensional, personalised, approach not before attempted in the UK. The project evaluation showed that as a result of participation some 54 refugees gained permanent employment; in addition, four refugees became self-employed and a further 15 went on to higher-level training. The pathway approach was adapted and adopted by Birmingham City Council who set up a Working Neighbourhoods Funded programme in 2009 (c120 beneficiaries). Findings were disseminated to local, national and EU policymakers with Jenny Phillimore and one of the Community Researchers, (source 10), presenting the findings at the European Parliament (2008) and in Germany (2009) to MEPs and civil servants working in the field of integration.

2) Making a Difference (sources 4 and 10)

In 2008 eighteen migrant and refugee community group (MRCO) leaders participated in a training programme accredited by the Open College Network and run by researchers from the University of Birmingham. Some 16 received qualifications in research skills. Once trained they worked with Birmingham New Communities Network (BNCN) to identify areas where evidence was needed to secure changes in policy and practice (2008). The areas of focus were mental health, ESOL, truancy and access to skilled employment. Some 20 Birmingham based policymakers committed in a policy seminar to helping to provide evidence and disseminate the findings. Care Services Improvement Partnership and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust funded a conference (2008) to disseminate the mental health findings to over 200 delegates 80% of whom were regionally or locally based professionals, 10% nationally based professional and policymakers and 10% refugees or refugee support workers. Following the conference funding was provided for a regional refugee mental health network to bring practitioners together to overcome problems identified in our research. In addition the NHS funded the Medical Foundation to establish a base in the West Midlands to support GPs treating refugees with mental health problems. As a direct consequence of their involvement in the project BNCN received further funding from JRF and the Digbeth Trust and today have paid staff providing advice to MRCOs (source 10). The Learning and Skills Council reviewed their approach to commissioning and monitoring ESOL and introduced a new ESOL programme for refugees (c 300 beneficiaries 2009). Six community researchers continue to work as part of a team of multilingual community researchers who have undertaken numerous subsequent funded projects.

3) Health and Wealthy Together

The data collated as a part of the University of Birmingham research was used to develop the Birmingham City Council's (BCC) Social Inclusion strategy and contributed to the adoption of "embracing superdiversity" as one of BCC's five commitments to social inclusion (source 5). The team are currently working with Public Health and BCC to set up the quarterly collation of Flag 4 data.

4) Migrant maternity (sources 2, 5 and 7)

The report from this study was disseminated at a policy seminar (2010) attended by regional and national actors including the NHS and Home Office (35 attendees). Papers have appeared in Practicing Midwife and the Royal College of Midwives Journal: these publications reach every midwife in the UK and some overseas. The team recommended that funding was provided for civil society organisations to work in partnership with maternity services. As a result, Asirt (an organisation working with destitute migrants) was given funding for a post in 2010 to support pregnant migrants. In addition the multi-agency West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership, who were members of the project Advisory Board, were given a seat on the Maternity Action advisory group overseeing training for midwives working with asylum seeking and refugee women, and our findings helped shape the content of the course delivered to midwives in Coventry and Birmingham (2011). The findings support ongoing work with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) on the revision of the health asylum instruction. The evidence was presented to Strategic Health Authority maternity leads at a meeting in London 2011 and informed a meeting in which the Department of Health requested that UKBA cease dispersal of women in late stages of pregnancy. The identification and referral pathways for pregnant women who pass through hostel services in Birmingham have been improved providing them with improved access to maternity care (source 7). The report and regional work on maternity and migration have been recognised as example of best practice as part of the Better Health for Better Integration EU project (source 2). Members of the research steering group delivered a presentation to a transnational workshop organised by the South West Public Health Observatory (2011):

In November 2012 the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences provided funds to support 2 events with 80 midwives in conjunction with City Hospital. The findings and recommendations on "what midwives can do" were presented with three voluntary organisations (ASIRT as above, Hope Projects, Bethal Doula Project) who talked about their work. Resulting from this action the team were asked to send the report to the CEO of Birmingham Women's Hospital so it could inform the ongoing review of maternity provision and to present the findings at the House of Commons Inquiry into Asylum Support for Families. The findings are a key element of the report of this inquiry (source 6). Following the ESRC event, Professor Phillimore met with the head of midwifery training at Birmingham City University and worked with them to organise a conference on migrant families for midwives and health visitors in Birmingham on 8th July 2013. This was attended by 75 practitioners; the Migrant Maternity research formed the basis of the keynote presentation.

Sources to corroborate the impact

[1] Factual statement provided by Senior Principal Research Officer (specialising in migration), Home Office.

[2] The maternity research report is available on several sites e.g. and

[3] The EQUAL report: Phillimore, J, Goodson, L, Hennessy, D, Ergun, E. and Joseph. R. (2007) Employability pathways: an integrated approach to recognising the skills and experiences of new migrants, A Report for EQUAL. Available at:

[4] Making a Difference report: Phillimore, J., Goodson, L., Hennessy, D. & Ergun, E. (2009) Empowering Birmingham's migrant and refugee community organisations: Making a difference. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Available at:

[5] Research formed key part of the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process and embracing superdiversity was adopted as a key priority for the city

[6] APPG (2013) Report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Asylum Support for Children and Young People

[7] Factual statement provided by Lead Officer, South West Regional Migration Partnership.

[8] Factual statement provided by Community Researcher, Birmingham New Communities Network.

[9] Factual statement provided by Social Policy Manager, Midland Heart.