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"Sometimes they ask me: Why are you here if you cannot help me?": A qualitative study of experiences of being a volunteer at Immigration Detention Centres in Sweden, and their perceptions on the lives of detainees
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH).
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Introduction Asylum seekers, rejected asylum seekers and irregular migrants can be detained by a host country. Previous research indicates a poor mental health among detainees, and inadequate accessibility and availability of mental health care. Volunteers from NGOs play an important role in providing psychosocial support to the detainees. Almost no studies have investigated the volunteers’ role at detention centres and how they experience their work and perceive detainees’ daily life.

Aim The aim was to explore how volunteers experience their role at detention centres and how they perceive the lives of the detainees in immigration detention centres in Sweden.

Method A total of ten semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings Volunteers vary in their perceived ability to assist detainees in their problems, such as judicial matters, and some of them subsequently experience feelings of helplessness. The participants agreed that occurrence of frustration and increased mental distress was prevalent feelings among detainees. Areas of suggested improvements were addressing the current absence of a psychologist at the centres, as well as lack of activities, which could increase the overall wellbeing for detainees.

Conclusion A framework for volunteering at detention centres could assist the volunteers in their work and make their tasks clearer. Education for volunteers could increase the empowerment among them, making them feel that they could suggest meaningful and realistic actions to be taken by the detainees. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 41 p.
Keyword [en]
Volunteers, Immigration detention centers, detainees, empowerment, locus of control, asylum seekers, irregular migrants
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-298999OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-298999DiVA: diva2:948713
Educational program
Master Programme in International Health
Available from: 2016-09-02 Created: 2016-07-13 Last updated: 2016-09-02Bibliographically approved

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