Social Work With Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Young People: Reframing Social Care Professionals As ‘Co-Navigators’

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This article explores the relationships between unaccompanied asylum-seeking youngpeople and the social care professionals who work with them. Based on the interviews with both young people and professionals, analysed using a thematic narrative approach, the findings seek to reframe practitioners in this field as ‘co-navigators’. Such co-navigators assist asylum-seeking young people to plot a course through complex and uncertain social terrain, including the shifting and inhospitable terrain of immigration regimes. Viewing practice in this way brings into focus the interplay of agency and control in these relationships. In contrast to some previous conceptualisations, the agency of the young people here is expressed through relationships with professionals as many of the young people relied on social care to help them manifest their goals and aspirations; both through pragmatic assistance in navigating the complexity of institutional bureaucracy and through developing emotional, therapeutic bonds.
Understanding social care professionals as ‘co-navigators’ allows us to understand the emotional value of practical forms of assistance as well as explore how agency might operate as such relationships evolve.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2019

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