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Durham e-Theses
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Volunteering for Refugees in County Durham:
Between Improvisation and Institutionalisation

JUNGNICKEL, ANNETTE (2020) Volunteering for Refugees in County Durham:
Between Improvisation and Institutionalisation.
Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Since 2016 about 200 Syrian refugees have been settled in County Durham via the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS) sanctioned by the UK government. At that time no institution that held experience in supporting or advocating for refugees existed, while right-wing attitudes and hostility towards migrants were strongly present. Under these circumstances, parts of the local population responded to refugees’ arrival in compassionate, altruistic, and improvised ways, and the Durham City of Sanctuary charity was founded. Given the sudden demand for and the reliance on volunteers, this thesis aims to develop an understanding of how volunteering works in Durham and how volunteers experienced voluntary support provision. Situating my research largely within Rhetoric Culture Theory and focussing on volunteers’ narratives provided insights into how volunteers orientated themselves and navigated through the social world of volunteering in County Durham. Six months of ethnographic research as ‘complete participant’ revealed striking diversity and inconsistency across all levels of volunteering; volunteers engaged in a range of activities, provided multiple reasons to account for their involvement, demonstrated differing perceptions of accountability for the organisation of support initiatives, and engaged with refugees in diverse ways. The ethnographic account reveals the complex reality of volunteering for refugees in County Durham and shows that volunteering cannot be understood as a uniform category or defined practice. Instead, volunteering in Durham opened spaces for improvisation and interpretation. I suggest that the heterogeneity can be linked to the non-institutionalised context of volunteering and the local socio-political scene, and therefore constitutes a ‘situated practice’. This research aims to contribute to anthropological scholarship on localised civil society initiatives and provide the local support providers with information that they can use to improve their services.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Volunteering ";" Refugees";"Humanitarianism ";"Refugee Crisis ";"charity ";" philanthropy ";" civil society ";" solidarity ";" hospitality ";" giver recipient relationship "
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Apr 2020 11:01

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