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Health & Social Care careers

Social Care: Asylum

Why get involved with asylum?

Occupations that focus on the provision of social care for asylum seekers can be some of the most demanding, challenging and valuable career paths that you can pursue. The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) defines asylum as “protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country.”

This area of social care is all about providing vital care, support and guidance to asylum seekers and refugees who have already been granted asylum.

Why is the provision of asylum so vital?

As the UKBA acknowledges, the UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for genuine refugees. This provision of safety and support is partly down to the hard work of social care workers who help the people that have escaped countries affected by war, inhumanity, genocide or corrupt governments.

People that come to the UK in search of help and respite can receive social care support while their application for asylum is being assessed and also once they have been granted asylum. This is a hugely broad area of social care which can cover all kinds of different issues, including:

  • Giving financial and housing support
  • Arranging education for young people and access to healthcare
  • Providing legal advice
  • Helping adult asylum seekers to find employment.

Considering the fact that the majority of asylum seekers and refugees have escaped incredibly traumatic, harrowing and violent situations, social care workers in this area may also need to help asylum seekers with their mental health needs and other knock-on effects of trauma, such as domestic violence.

Another primary aim of asylum-focused social care work is the integration of refugees into their community. Social inclusion is incredibly important for asylum seekers and therefore social care workers may find themselves dabbling in a certain amount of community development activities from time to time.

How does the asylum system work?

All asylum seekers will be given a designated case worker while they are waiting for their application to be accepted. This case worker will also provide them with continual support once they have been granted asylum.

This area of social care work presents a range of additional challenges. Understandably, you will frequently come up against language barriers and fearful, vulnerable and reluctant service users. Indeed, many service users may be unsure about what they are entitled to and how they can access the various services on offer.

Consequently, additional language skills may be an incredibly valuable asset for you to have. This will allow you facilitate communication and overcome cultural differences.

If you get involved with this area of social care, you’ll be using your expert knowledge of social care issues and communication skills to assess the specific needs of the asylum seekers that you are working with. You will be dealing with a huge range of issues, so a large part of your role will involve referring service users to other appropriate health and social care providers.

In addition to this referral service, you’ll spend your time meeting with service users, speaking to them and learning about their needs to figure out where they most need support. Furthermore, you will be making the important decisions about what assistance specific asylum seekers will require, such as housing, financial support and education.

It’s not all about making assessments and providing advice and guidance though. You might also be getting actively involved in helping service users to get back on their feet and develop a new life in the UK.

This area of work is a lot more hands-on. For instance, you might be arranging youth clubs for young asylum seekers or acting as an interpreter when your service users have legal or healthcare issues.

Admittedly, this can be a very demanding role, as there are still members of the far-right with incredibly inflammatory views towards asylum and immigration. However, what it boils down to is this: you are helping some seriously vulnerable people to escape unspeakable prejudice and get back on their feet in a safe environment, which is an amazing thing to make a career from.

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