'Keeping busy with purpose': how meaningful occupation shapes the experience of forced migration.

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Forced migration creates multiple barriers to everyday life, including individual’s access to dignified and meaningful daily occupations. Without the activities that form family life, self-care, work, leisure, and community participation, individuals can find themselves struggling to fill the hours in their days and feeling they exist on the margins of society. This article reflects the findings of a small-scale phenomenological study exploring the meaning of everyday occupations to people seeking asylum in the UK. A series of in-depth interviews, conducted with 10 people, explored the role of daily occupation in their country of origin and in the UK. The study found that restrictions on daily activities had a significant impact on their well-being and sense of self-worth. They highlighted how limited their opportunities were and acknowledged the value of meaningful daily occupations as a means to ‘keep busy with purpose’. There is growing evidence that occupation has the potential to be of benefit to people during the post-migratory period: maintaining health, preserving key skills, retaining a sense of self, and increasing integration. This study shows the multiple gains associated with purposeful activity, including how the right kind of occupation can promote self-worth at a time when people often feel devalued. The article encourages the reader to consider how increased access to activity can promote well-being and to consider challenging the occupational injustices behind asylum policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1342
JournalMigration Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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