Last Updated: Monday, April 20, 2020

Supporting Young Eastern Europeans - research, policy and practice materials

What is this?

These are briefings and materials on research from the Here to Stay?

Identity, citizenship and belonging among settled Eastern European migrant children and young people in the UK project. The project is supported by funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is led by researchers from the University of Strathclyde. The research project explores the lives of young people aged 12-18 who arrived in the UK as migrant children from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). It explores their everyday lives, cultural and national identities and their sense of identity and belonging. The research aims to contribute to ongoing debates on migration and the future of UK in Europe post-Brexit, providing information for families, policy makers and practitioners.

The findings were based on a survey with over 1100 young people across the UK and are summarised in five research and policy briefings, a leaflet for families and a research article.

Who is this for?

Teachers, policy makers and other practitioners, particularly those who work with young people who have moved to Britain from Central and Eastern Europe.

Improvement questions

  • Have you considered how to support learners from the EU in your school who may be feeling insecure about their future following the EU referendum and Brexit?
  • Are we effectively encouraging reporting and tackling racism and anti-migration attitudes?
  • Are families and young people able to access up-to-date information on decisions in relation to their post Brexit situation and status?
  • Are our schools sufficiently inclusive in relation to young people’s multiple identities and language abilities?
  • Do we emphasise multiple identities and support all young people to feel they belong?
  • Can we create opportunities for young people to discuss openly challenging political and social issues and raise awareness for all, as a route to tackling racism and xenophobia and challenging negative views?

Download(s)/links

The five briefings are available via the links below and on the website:

No 1: Eastern European Young People in Brexit Britain: Racism, anxiety and a precarious future

No 2: Eastern European Young People's Feeling of Belonging: Any Place in a Brexit Britain?

No 3: Eastern European Young People's Political and Community Engagement in the UK

No 4: Eastern European Young People's Use of Services in the UK

No 5: Eastern European Youth Identities in Uncertain times

The researchers have also produced a leaflet for EU nationals aimed at young people entitled:

PDF file: How to talk about Brexit with my family (362 KB)

A research article summarising the project findings is also available free access in Population, Space and Place:

Belonging in Brexit Britain: Central and Eastern European 1.5 Generation Young People's Experiences

A Channel 4 News programme informed by the research, featuring young EU nationals' experiences and views on how Brexit is going to impact them can be found online:

The Brexit fears of children of EU nationals

About this research

What is the context for this research?

This research focusses on young people aged 12-18 who came to Britain from the EU states since 2004. It examines their experiences of citizenship, identity and belonging and their aspirations for future in the context of Brexit. It also reports on the increased levels of discrimination and bullying young Europeans have experienced since Brexit, with implications for schools and educators. There are over 3.5 million EU nationals in the UK, of which over 600,000 are children and young people. The insecurity over their rights and status in the UK post-Brexit is likely to impact on children’s sense of identity and belonging, and potentially their engagement with education and well-being.

How was the research carried out?

The research team gathered the opinions of young people on a range of issues: their feelings of national and local belonging, their participation in communities , their access to services, their experiences of racism, exclusion and education, their relationships, well-being and plans for the future now that the UK is planning to leave the EU.

This is the first large scale survey of young people born in Central and Eastern Europe who have moved to the UK with their families. Between October 2016 and April 2017 1120 young people completed the survey, with 807 full completions.

What are the strengths of the research methodology?

In addition to the survey, researchers carried out focus groups with 108 young people in schools across the UK and case studies with 20 families.

Online surveys allow for large numbers of respondents to be contacted regardless of geographical distance. They provide standardised quantitative and qualitative data, allow for comparisons between respondents and allow for confidential responses.

Focus groups can be used to provide several perspectives about the same topic and can be a more relaxed and less formal setting than an interview. They allow participants the opportunity to interact with one another in ways that may enrich the depth and quality of the data. Participants often motivate each other in ways that result in new ideas and insights. However, focus groups are unlikely to be suitable if you are gathering data on sensitive issues.

About the author(s)

The project is supported by funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is led by a team of researchers from the universities of Strathclyde and Plymouth. The authors are Daniela Sime, Emmaleena Käkelä, Stephen Corson, Naomi Tyrrell, Christina McMellon, Claire Kelly and Marta Moskal- academic researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde, Plymouth and Durham.

Full references

Sime, D., Käkelä, E., Corson, S., Tyrrell, N., McMellon, C., Kelly, C. and Moskal, M.(2017) Eastern European Young People in Brexit Britain: Racism, anxiety and a precarious future [Research and Policy Briefing No. 1]. University of Strathclyde.

Tyrrell, N. et al ((2018) Eastern European Young People's Feeling of Belonging: Any Place in a Brexit Britain? [Research and Policy Briefing No. 2]. University of Strathclyde.

McMellon, C. et al (2018) Eastern European Young People's Political and Community Engagement in the UK. [Research and Policy Briefing No. 3]. University of Strathclyde

Kelly, C. et al (2018) Eastern European Young People's Use of Services in the UK. [Research and Policy Briefing No. 4]. University of Plymouth.

Moskal, M. et al. (2018) Eastern European Youth Identities in Uncertain Times, [Research and Policy Briefing No. 5]. University of Strathclyde.

Tyrrell, N.; Sime, D.; Kelly, C.; McMellon, C. (2018) Belonging in Brexit Britain: Central and Eastern European 1.5 Generation young people's experiences, Population, Space and Place, Online first: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/psp.2205