Challenging environments: professional perspectives on engaging with displaced people in collective centres
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Collective centres are buildings used for shelter by groups of displaced people, which formerly had another purpose (e.g. schools, factories). Humanitarian agencies often provide assistance to people in these centres, and there have been recent efforts to learn more about approaches to working with them. The objective of the study was to add more detail to knowledge about the nature of dilemmas, challenges and issues that professionals face when engaging with people accommodated in collective centres. The main research question was, “What is the meaning of engagement with displaced people for humanitarian workers in collective centre settings?” Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight professionals with experience of working with people in collective centres, borrowing from the technique of convergent interviewing. A phenomenological approach placed the experience of the professionals at the centre of the study. The interviews were transcribed and analysed as text, with the analysis consisting of reading the transcripts, identifying recurrent themes in the data, and making comparisons to findings in humanitarian and community work theory and practice. The main findings were that: the buildings do not provide spaces for humanitarian workers to operate in, nor for residents to be social; the success of management processes was affected by the trust and connections present in context, and the control professionals had over them; and that financial constraints create dilemmas in terms of what work to undertake. Future research could explore the relevance of sectoral guidelines, and the challenges that are present within specific organisations or emergency responses.
Master thesis in community work