Barry, Vikki (2013) The impact of employment restrictions upon the occupational identities of asylum seekers. In: College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference, 2013, June 2013, Glasgow, UK. (Unpublished)

In Britain, asylum seekers have been the subject of much media and political attention; however, can be misrepresented (Squire, 2009). Research pertaining to asylum seekers in the UK tends to investigate the psychological or physiological health needs. There are calls for an extension to the research into the occupational needs of asylum seekers (Whiteford,2004). Legislation prohibits asylum seekers from gaining paid employment. There is little research nor enough known about the effects of employment restrictions upon the occupational identities of asylum seekers. This qualitative research study used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as the methodology to examine and interpret how employment restrictions impact the occupational identities of 4 asylum seekers. Local ethical approval was sought through Leeds Metropolitan University for post graduate research.

Occupational Therapists fundamentally believe that humans are occupational beings and believe that occupation is integral to health (Wilcock, 1993); unfortunately not all people have equal opportunities to participate in meaningful and purposeful occupations. Occupational engagement develops and maintains people’s occupational identity (Christiansen, 1999) thus Smith (2005) highlighted that the loss of role and identity cannot be underestimated, nor can the speed at which people feel deskilled as a result of employment restrictions. Findings of the study reveal the complex and multifaceted consequences of employment restrictions on the occupational identities of asylum seekers. Occupational deprivation, occupational alienation and
occupational marginalisation (Whiteford, 2004) are identified as significant risk factors to the lives of this population.

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