Agendas, networks and cohesion: examining empowerment or refugee community organisations at neighbourhood level and beyond
Jones, Pat (2008)

By Pat Jones, University of Birmingham

This paper is inspired by an on-going case study that forms the final stage of fieldwork within the PhD case-studentship of the Housing Associations Charitable Trust-led Programme – Accommodate 2004 – 2007. The Programme embraced five initiatives in Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield where statutory housing providers, local authorities, voluntary agencies and Refugee Community Organisations worked together in partnership. Pioneering access to housing services and promoting housing solution for refugees was the Programme’s overall aim but each partnership explored resolution in very different ways.The case study is located in one of the five partnership Projects, based in a Refugee Centre that emerged as one of this partnership’s significant outcomes. The Centre now provides a stable base from which Refugee Community Organisations can work free of charge. Data has been gathered over several months using an active/participative research methodology in order to capture the process and nature of empowerment of Refugee Community Organisations to greater self-reliance. Ideas and concepts of network management theory frame the analysis, mapping an understanding of internal and external networks, policy making and agenda-setting. The focus is on identifying how Refugee Community Organisations are best placed to strengthen their communities and integrate with wider established communities towards improved community cohesion in an area noted for past difficulties. Finally this paper reflects on the implications this might have for social sustainability in the broader context of the housing market renewal pathfinder’s master plan for regeneration.

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