The research team ‘Care in and out of place’ – comprised of Prof Majella Kilkey, Prof Louise Ryan, Dr Magdolna Lőrinc and PhD student Obert Tawodzera – organised a successful research dissemination and networking event in Sheffield on Wednesday the 11th of March 2020. The event was hosted by Sadacca (Sheffield & District Afro Caribbean Community Association), one of the NGOs that we have worked with during our research with older migrants.
The event Care in and out of place: the experiences of ageing migrants sought to disseminate the findings of our research that explored the intersections of ageing, migration and care in the UK, conducted as part of the Sustainable Care Programme. During the event, we launched a research report, also titled Care ‘in’ and ‘out of place_PDF.
The morning started with Professors Majella Kilkey and Louise Ryan welcoming attendees to the event, then presenting the main finding of our research with older migrants. They emphasized the key role that our participants – and many other migrants who arrived in Britain in the 1940s-1950s – played in rebuilding the country after World War II, and their enormous cultural, social and economic contribution to this society, that needs recognition. Regarding access to care and support, our research found that constraints on adult social care funding left some of our participants having to use their own resources to pay for their care. Although new technologies were expected to transform aged care, helping people remain in their own homes for longer, our findings indicate older people’s reluctance to engage with new technologies. Several participants mentioned their loneliness and shrinking social networks – factors associated with other life events linked to growing older, such as bereavement, reduced mobility, onset of dementia, and caring responsibilities for partners. While government policy is to encourage ageing in place, for some people, especially those with reduced mobility, this may result in isolation.
In this regard, we found that NGOs played a vital role in providing care and support to ageing migrants: for example, often these were the most important source of information about benefits and entitlements to health and care services. Some organisations also provided day care services and carers to older people. However, NGOs have been severely affected by austerity measures over the last ten years, and were relying on precarious funding and volunteer staff.
As migrants, our participants also had concerns about maintaining their transnational networks. They explained that the cost of visiting their home countries or that of hosting visiting relatives from abroad made keeping in touch with family and friends more difficult. Uncertainties caused by Brexit and the Windrush scandal were also discussed.
The research team concluded their presentation with listing a number of talking points for discussion, including older people’s loneliness and isolation, risk of being trapped in their own homes, the role of NGOs, the need for recognition of older migrants’ contribution to British society, as well as issues related to maintaining transnational networks, and the implications of Brexit on the social care workforce.
The presentation of our research findings was followed by a panel discussion on the intersection of migration, ageing and care in the South Yorkshire context, with invited speakers from local NGOs, including: Olivier Tsemo, the CEO of Sadacca; David Bussue, Director of SACMHA (Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association) and Dave Oldroyd, the Chair of Sheffield Irish Association. The panel was chaired by Steve Chu, Chief Executive at Age UK Sheffield. After providing a brief overview of the organisations they were representing, panel members reflected on how our research findings could be useful for them and wider audiences. They appreciated our research focus on migrant communities and older people, highlighting the need for reliable, relevant and up-to-date information. As they pointed out, our research report can potentially strengthen their future funding applications. Panellists also explained that for NGOs surviving on a shoestring it would be a key priority to engage with academic research in ways that generates income and funding for them.
As such, the panel discussion provided us an opportunity to consult and engage with people and organisations who are working with older people, especially migrants, and identify ways of collaborating. We continued discussing the issues raised by our findings and the panellists over the Q&A session, with the audience comprised of representatives from local NGOs, the council and some of our older research participants.
The event ended with a lunch provided by Sadacca, allowing the event participants to network and chat with each other, while savouring the delicious Caribbean specialities.