Research Project: When the Dust Settles

When the Dust Settles Film

The project

There are currently 8,000 refugees in the UK waiting for decisions on their family reunion applications. Forced migration and the traumatic consequences of separation, as well as of the obstacles to the reunification process, are well documented, as are the most immediate needs of families, once reunited.

The longer-term lived experience of reunited refugee families, in contrast, is poorly understood, despite recognition that family reunion is not the end of a journey, but the beginning of another long road for families to be able to settle and build their lives in the UK, free from persecution. When the Dust Settles is a participatory, mixed media research project that addresses this research gap, by examining the ongoing challenges reunited refugee families face after their first year together in their new home.

Created by Dr Maria Abranches (School of International Development, UEA) and Amy Lythgoe (Together Now), and supported by a British Academy Innovation Fellowship, When the Dust Settles recognises the families’ key role in the project as knowledge-holders and sharers. The project therefore adopted a participatory ethnographic approach and used narrative interviews and participant-led photography to understand people’s post-reunion lived experience. The documentary was co-written with the participant families in order to give voice to the concerns and themes they wanted to share.

While the stories that were shared reveal incredible resilience and the strategies adopted to make sense of the changes that occur in life away from persecution, they also demonstrate that many of the challenges faced after arrival still persist and that new ones are encountered along the way.

Field Locations

The project was conducted in Manchester and Glasgow, UK.