The ReROOT project studies arrival infrastructure in the following nine pilot sites: Brussels (BE), London (UK), Budapest (HU), Haspengouw/Westland (BE/NL), Karditsa/Katerini (GR), Istanbul (TU), Dortmund (DE), Paris (FR), and Thessaloniki (GR).
The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham is a deprived borough that has experienced swift demographic change. The council seeks to ensure socio-economic inclusion for longer established residents, while also meeting the needs of a changing population. It is a task complicated by the political history of the area, funding restrictions, the UK’s dysfunctional housing market, and the effects of the national government’s hostile policies on migrant residents.

Broader Context
Barking & Dagenham has a strong social integration policy that recognises that both international migrants and established residents may suffer exclusion in a context of deprivation. Central government cuts to local authority budgets have narrowed the space for councils to provide support beyond the minimum that they are legally obliged to offer. Wider dynamics of social exclusion, social housing supply and housing affordability in the city bring vulnerable arrivals, both British and foreign born, to reside and seek support in the borough. Finally, many residents have experienced destitution or prolonged social exclusion due to national-level policies and practices towards migrants.

Ethnographic Site
The ethnographic research unfolded in everyday spaces (libraries, market, cafés and shops, homes) and in services targeting specific needs, social identities or neighbourhoods. These included free food provision services, English teaching services, and services for particular cultural, linguistic or faith groups. Initial fieldwork did not reveal any visible, targeted services for international migrants or other newly arrived residents. However, the council, charities and community groups were delivering a range of different and often changing services to residents, often including different types of arrivals in the local area, whether British or foreign-born.

Some Key Findings
Findings reflect challenges for the inclusion of new arrivals in the borough, who often lack the technology, language and digital skills, know-how and/or social connections needed to discover and access opportunities and services. Help and information from social contacts such as friends, family, landlords, and colleagues were often key to unlocking opportunities and overcoming barriers. However, some vulnerable participants were isolated, or had social networks that could not assist them effectively. Signposting was of little use to those facing severe barriers of language, digital skills, or know-how. For some, contacts within a particular service were their only opportunity to access support or information. However, some services were not designed, resourced or equipped to provide support effectively and with compassion.

Read about the action research for this site here.

Research Team
Susanne Wessendorf, Tamlyn Monson

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