Brown, Philip (2005) Narratives of Service Provision: A Dialogical Perspective on the ‘Support’ of Asylum Seekers. In: Narrative, Memory & Everyday Life. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 199-210.

This chapter focuses upon some of the narratives of housing and ‘support’
service provision set against the backdrop of the support of asylum seekers in
the United Kingdom. Since 1999 specific asylum seeker support teams have
been established within a number of local authorities throughout the UK
contracted to the Home Office to provide housing and social support to
destitute asylum seekers. Currently, the regions of the UK, operate within a
national legislative arena led by the Home Office whilst simultaneously
negotiating the local expectations of local ‘communities’. From this position
these professionals are required to fulfil a range of often seemingly conflictual
and contradictory roles including among others, housing provider, social carer,
informal immigration control and community liaison. In recent research Sales
and Hek (2004) have raised the issue of the tension that they perceive exists in
the work of these professionals with asylum seekers between the ‘care’ of
asylum seekers and the ‘control’ required by national legislation and policy.
However, rather than professionals performing a ‘balancing’ between these
seemingly ‘conflictual’ roles, as suggested by Sales and Hek (2004), what this
chapter suggests is something that resonates with the Bakhtinian notion of
‘polyphony’ (Bakhtin, 1984). From this perspective the roles and duties of an
asylum support professional are not approached from a position where a
professional has to weigh up between the performance of either one role or
another, where an individual worker can only fulfil these caring and controlling
roles at separate times. Rather, it is recognised that roles and duties can be
deployed equally and simultaneously where professionals can be both caring
and at the same time controlling. What this chapter would like to suggest is
that such simultaneous performance of a number of roles appears to enable the
emergence of a seemingly unproblematic ‘multi-voiced’ worker that
successfully negotiates between care, control, community, integration, and
segregation and a variety of other positions and discourse.

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