‘Will to survive’: The lives of young people with ‘no papers’ in the UK

Deveci, Yeṣim (2021) ‘Will to survive’: The lives of young people with ‘no papers’ in the UK. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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This thesis explores the everyday lives, life histories, hopes and dreams of young people (aged 17 – 25 years old) with irregular/undocumented immigration status. The project grew out of 15 years’ experience of working with young refugees and migrants in an urban context and a desire to understand more about the lives of those without authorised status in the UK. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews with seven young people, the findings suggest that undocumented youth survive on a continuum moving between life and death; their aliveness or closeness to death impacted by multiple psychological and socio-political factors. This thesis has three main objectives. Firstly, it seeks to document and honour the participants’ stories in ways which represent not only their struggles but also their capacity to continue living in the face of adversity and to hold hope for the future. Secondly, it delineates the ways practitioners in social care, health, education, youth and community work, might help this group of young people to construct their everyday lives safely. Thirdly, building on a psychosocial relational ontology informed by black feminism and decolonial thinking, the thesis looks to advance critical reflexive scholarship grounded in principles of respect, kindness and justice. Overall, the results of this empirical enquiry confirm that individual lives cannot be understood through attending only to that which is spoken and speakable. Rather, any attempts to understand lived experience must also consider that which may be unspoken or unspeakable. From this perspective, attention to emotions and a willingness to embrace embodied ways of knowing and learning can offer deeper insights into the lives of others. Interweaving participant testimonies, empirical research and theory, with poetry and prose, this thesis attempts both to represent the lives of young people with ‘no papers’ and to speak to the complexity of such an endeavour.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of a Professional Doctorate in Social Work and Emotional Wellbeing awarded by the University of East London, in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Social Work and Emotional Wellbeing, D60
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Social Welfare
Groups & Organisations > Racial/Cultural Groups
Groups & Organisations > Refugees - Psychology
Groups & Organisations > Refugees - Social Welfare
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2175

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