Male refugee carrying a young boy in front of other refugees

A recent study by the University of Manchester reports that the hopes and ambitions of young migrant men coming to the UK are all too quickly shattered after arrival. 

The team of criminologists that conducted the research found that many young men who have come to the UK are unable to fully integrate into British society, even long after obtaining their ILR. They experience hostility in the workplace, at the sportsgrounds and in nightclubs, more so than their female counterparts. 

The study, outlined in a report by the European Commission, was led by Jon Spencer, who is based at the University’s Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice. He said: “The majority of the young men we spoke to said that they felt fear of victimisation or racism because they feel like second-class citizens.”

Many men in their twenties who were interviewed said they wanted work, do sports and start a family, but feel excluded and are subjected to negative stereotyping. 

In total, 280 migrant men were interviewed between the ages of 16 and 27 in seven countries across Europe, including the UK. All men interviewed had a right of residence, yet many said they found themselves having to constantly justify their right to be here. 

Researchers are now calling for a change in policy to help these men feel included in British society and reach their full potential.  

They believe that politicians and the media have contributed to painting a negative picture of migrants, especially now during the debate surrounding the EU referendum, the Syrian refugee crisis and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. 

According to Spencer, “[The men] feel they are constantly having to justify their status and are made to feel like they don’t belong here. Many we spoke to told us that they feel as if they are on the wrong side of the law, even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

“The perception seems to be that these young men are automatically seen at risk of engaging in criminal activity.”

And this is something the UK government needs to address, according to Spencer. With more social support and revised family reunion policies, he believes that the well-being of these men can be improved. 

“There needs to be a national effort to help integrate these men and give them a sense of security. If people can feel they are members of society, it builds citizenship. 

“It should be driven nationally and delivered locally, with migrant community organisations involved in creating educational strategies and developing language skills.

 “These are young men who have an absolute right to be here and want to work, but they don’t feel part of society.”

Written by Veronica Pembleton for Eluceo. You can follow her via @veronicalou_