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Seeking asylum in Bristol: insights into psychological needs and resilience

Charlotte Flothmann (School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)
Daphne Josselin (Department of Psychology, School of Arts and Social Sciences, City University of London, London, UK)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 26 February 2021

Issue publication date: 1 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to share research findings on the lived experiences of asylum seekers in Bristol (UK), with a particular focus on psychological needs and sources of resilience.


The study was designed following the principles of action research and was carried out in three phases involving nine co-researchers. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the resulting data, collected through semi-structured interviews.


The findings highlight challenges which are faced by asylum seekers after migrating to the UK and indicate how these do not allow for psychological needs to be met, undermining resilience. Co-researchers indicated that aspects of the asylum system were perceived as unfair, adding to existing losses and promoting fear. Strength was found through engaging with communities and religious practices.

Practical implications

The research suggests that asylum seekers feel misrepresented and misunderstood within the public realm and raises serious questions around the current asylum legislation. It offers practitioners insight into key determinants for psychological well-being from the perspective of asylum seekers, providing suggestions for sensitive and appropriate interventions.


The study offers original insights into asylum seekers’ experiences, with a specific focus on Bristol. The use of action research and the involvement of asylum seekers as co-researchers are also noteworthy, as collaborative research is scarce in this field.



Thank you to the co-researchers who have made this project possible by sharing generously their expertise, opinions and personal experiences.


Flothmann, C. and Josselin, D. (2021), "Seeking asylum in Bristol: insights into psychological needs and resilience", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 166-180.



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