Evaluation of the sleep project for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Kent

Carr, H., Hatzidimitriadou, E. and Sango, P. N. (2017) Evaluation of the sleep project for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Kent. Report. Canterbury: Canterbury Christ Church University. ISBN 9781909067738.

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It has been a privilege to evaluate the Sleep Project intervention for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). The opportunity to evaluate this project arose through discussions between the authors and Dr. Ana Draper, exploring the work of Ana, her team and colleagues across the various agencies in supporting newly-arrived migrant children in Kent.

From 2015, there was a rapid increase in the number of UASC arriving into the region and services were quickly adapted to meet the specific and immediate needs of these vulnerable children and young people, the Sleep Project being just one of the innovative interventions put in place.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people have usually experienced harrowing journeys to the United Kingdom (UK) in seeking safety and refuge. Once in the UK, adapting to life within reception centres, foster families or supported housing, brings further challenges and within this context, practitioners and the young people identified sleep as a key problematic issue for which they required extra support. Through conversations with practitioners and young people, sleep difficulties were a recurring issue. Lack of sleep and disturbed sleep was preventing the young people from engaging in planned activities such as language classes. Tiredness was having negative health and social/educational impacts.

This evaluation studies the benefits and challenges of the creative support mechanisms that were developed to address the sleep issues.

This report presents our findings from the evaluation study of the Sleep Project intervention. The study comprised of 18 interviews with practitioners either working directly or indirectly with UASC, in paid and voluntary capacities. From the interviews, the qualitative data was thematically analysed to develop themes under which the benefits and challenges of the intervention could be explored.
Throughout the interviews with practitioners working either directly with UASC or indirectly in managerial roles, it became apparent that there was a high level of commitment from individuals to develop their understanding of UASCs’ needs and to develop appropriate social care practice and support. The interviews highlighted that practitioners were prepared to think and act creatively to improve and to tailor support for this group of children and young people.

The findings of the evaluation suggest that the Sleep Project was very well-received by young people and practitioners alike. It provided practical resources and support for good sleep, and it encouraged conversations to develop between the practitioners and the young people, and between the young people themselves, normalising the sleep issues that they were experiencing, and, according to interviewees, the young people were found to be encouraging other young people to use the good sleep packs. The intervention helped the practitioners feel more confident and equipped with skills to talk to the young people about sleep and, possibly, this led to deeper discussions about individual journeys and experiences, allowing care to become more empathetic, specific and person-centred. Significantly, interviewees reported that the project allowed them to ‘look at the basics’, that is, practical help such as providing night lights and educating young people about factors that hamper a good night’s sleep, whilst practitioners gained a greater understanding and responsiveness as to why the young people could struggle with sleep. This greater understanding has been important for shifting the perceptions of practitioners, particularly those in educational roles, helping them to be more patient and supportive to young people struggling to get to lessons on time and to concentrate.

Key messages from the findings of this evaluation study are encapsulated in the following quotes from interviewees:
• ‘I think it’s thinking a bit more innovatively about the care we can provide’
• ‘A confidence to look at the basics’
• ‘Context switched concepts’.

Proposed recommendations involve: sustaining the work so far, looking at how the project could/should have a legacy, and building on the developed knowledge and networks. At the time of the publication of this report, young people are being transferred to other receiving local authorities outside Kent – a national dispersal scheme that was agreed by the Home Office in June 2016 to ease the pressure on Kent - therefore good practice from this project should be widely disseminated to service providers and policy makers at regional and national levels.

Item Type: Report (Report)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0640 Refugee problems
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0888 Children with disabilities
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0040 Social service. Social work. Charity
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Prof Eleni Hatzidimitriadou
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2018 11:13
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2018 12:59
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16763

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00