Our Research means that we are always learning and finding better ways to support Survivors of torture and trafficking. Our research helps ensure that our staff and volunteers are constructively critical of existing practice. We work together, always questioning, and improving standards for our clients.
The Helen Bamber Foundation’s Research Department is world renowned and led by Professor Cornelius Katona, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. We work with University College London, King’s College London, Edinburgh Napier University and Oxford University, masters and doctoral research projects, whilst simultaneously supporting students and senior researchers. We are absolutely committed to supporting the best research in order to provide the appropriate support for our clients.
OUR CLIENTS’ SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT AND INTEGRAL TO EVERYTHING WE DO.
We are not providers of research participants nor do we place our clients in any situation which may feel like coercion. We want our clients’ voices to be heard and listened to every step of the way. Therefore we have a research committee that meets every six weeks to review proposed research projects and which includes someone with lived experience.
RECENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
We have now conducted the first piece of research to investigate the impact of the transition period on new refugees’ mental health. The year-long study interviewed a group of new refugees at regular intervals during their transition from asylum seeker, assessing their mood, well-being and any significant challenges and changes that they had experienced. The study highlighted many hardships during the transition period, particularly difficulties finding a safe place to live, applying for and being awarded the correct level of benefits, being confronted with barriers to accessing essential services and frequent experiences of discrimination. Results showed these stressful life events did have negative implications on mental health. Towards the end of the year, as personal circumstances began to stabilise, mental health began to improve.
This research, along with our years of experience, show how beneficial and important it is to have dedicated support in the transition period from asylum seeker to refugee. The Helen Bamber Foundation will now look to build on this research to increase understanding of the challenges of the transition period and the support required for new refugees to make the best possible start to their life in the UK.
We have also recently conducted a piece of research analysing the ability of people seeking asylum to disclose information about their past experiences. To try and understand how various psychological and cultural factors, particularly where there is a history of trauma, affect Survivors ability to talk about their past experiences. Studies on resettled refugees indicate that people seeking asylum who have sustained multiple traumas in the past often report high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. It is now well accepted that their trauma and their consequent PTSD and depression often impede people in recalling and recounting their traumatic experiences fully and consistently.
The key message from this study – for clinicians writing expert reports, for solicitors and barristers involved in asylum cases, for Home Office decision makers and for Immigration Tribunal judges - is that people seeking asylum cannot be expected to tell their full story to the first person they have met in a first or single appointment. This study suggests that it is difficult for people seeking asylum to disclose traumatic experiences at a first or single meeting with a professional and therefore people seeking asylum may not do so at that stage. We are currently exploring these issues further through interviews exploring the ‘lived experience’ of some of our clients during their Home Office interviews and medico-legal report assessments.
OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE:
We will research further effective care for Survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery focussing on what works to prevent re-trafficking and exploitation..
We have completed a feasibility trial for Narrative Exposure Therapy with Survivors of trafficking and are seeking funding, in collaboration with KCL, to develop the necessary partnerships for a clinical trial. Narrative Exposure Therapy, or NET, is a treatment which helps individuals establish a coherent life narrative in which to contextualise traumatic experiences. There has been very little research on effective treatment for the psychological consequences of trafficking and we are determined to improve this.
We will improve decision making in the immigration and asylum context.
We have developed strong research themes in this area: the difficulties our clients have in testifying; the ability of decision makers to use expert evidence in making informed decisions; and the impact of detention on vulnerable people. This work connects to our desire to build a stronger policy and publications base focussed on how to make the immigration and asylum system, as a whole, work better for vulnerable people.
Our underlying intention is to use our research activities in the coming year to increase our future research impact and income. Given the importance of research to our strategic objectives, we will continue to invest in research development and coordination.
In addition, we will develop a programme of data driven research analysis and reports examining the clinical, and other issues underpinning our clients’ difficulties in gaining legal protection, quality care and safeguarding support.
If you would like to join our research journey please get in touch.