July 2013

SPRC NEWSLETTER – Social Policy Research Centre – Middlesex University
SPRC website: www.mdx.ac.uk/sprc   To contact us: sprc@mdx.ac.uk

July 2013





Welcome – Applications open for MSc Research Methods; New Affiliate members; Forthcoming Events; Recent projects – Report on ‘Welfare Needs of BME communities: Gathering evidence to inform community interventions’ (18th July 2013), Feature: New family migration regulations


With this new issue of the SPRC newsletter we have the pleasure to introduce some of our new affiliate members. We also report on a recent event on Welfare Needs of BME Communities, present a round-up of our activities concerning challenges to the new family migration regulations and announce some forthcoming conferences in autumn.

We would also like to take this opportunity to remind that registrations are now open for our MSc Research Methods. Taught by research active and widely published members of the SPRC, this postgraduate programme includes both theoretical and practical modules and allows students to acquire skills which can be directly applied in academic  as well as in professional research in the public, private and third sector. The programme is also highly recommended as preparation for doctoral study (PhD) in social sciences or other related areas.


New Affiliate Members

We welcome a number of new affiliate researchers to the SPRC who have joined the University this year, In this newsletter we introduce Anastasia Christou, Nick Dines and Alice Donald and in the next one it will be the turn of Brad Blitz and Dominic Pasura.

Anastasia Christou. Anastasia joined on 1st January 2013 as Reader in Sociology, having formerly been at Sussex University.  She will be involved in a forthcoming issue of Violence and Society. Issues of violence, society and social justice are also at the core of the programme of events of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded collaborative skills initiative for 2013-14. This is led by the University of East Anglia and in partnership with Goldsmiths, the University of Sussex and the University of Essex where Anastasia was involved in the Humanities in Human Rights initiative which is designed for postgraduate and early career researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences who are committed to understanding the politics of humanity and human rights today.


 She has also been involved in the organisation and chairing of two international research networking workshops that took place in late May 2013 at the University of Sussex. The first workshop on the theme of Mobilities, Migration and Global Health included project discussions on the health of migrants in the context of their economic well-being, transnational caring, cultures of migrating health workers, emotionality, sexuality and the mental health of migrant labourers, health scares and migrants perceived as vectors of disease and understandings of place in migrant therapeutics.


The second workshop People and Places in Limbo’ was a stimulating exchange of ideas and research prompted by the phrasing that resonated with some of Anastasia’s on-going research and writing. ‘In limbo’ invoked a sense of ‘between’ and of ‘transition’, with material or immaterial boundaries having been crossed and people and places ‘waiting’. ‘In limbo’ is the object and subject of interventions by a range of professionals and with mixed outcomes. But re-territorialisations, re-visions and new ways of being and doing may also creatively emerge. ‘In limbo’ may embody despair but also hope.


Her  research interests in gender and migration continue to develop as papers are emerging from a recent collaboration with social anthropologist, Dr. Domna Michail, part of a 2012-2013 ethnographic research project with Albanian youth migrants in Greece.  A number of papers have been presented or are under review:

“Diasporic Youth Identities of Uncertainty and Hope: Dynamics of Transnational Spatialisation and Gendered Representations of ‘Home’ in the Second Generation” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

“Gendering Mobilities, Re-Theorising Subjectivities, Re-Imagining Families”, was presented at the ICGM 2013 – International Conference on Gender and Migration: Critical Issues and Policy Implications, held on 11-13 May at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey.

She is also in the process of developing a Women Voices of Feminism Oral History Project,  with the first phase of the fieldwork taking place in late summer on the theme of: “Albanian Women’s Narratives, Memories and Lives: Intersections of Gender and Memory in Recollecting Communist Pasts and Capitalist Futures”.


Nick Dines. Prior to taking up his post as research fellow at Middlesex University, Nick  was based in Rome where, among various academic positions, was lecturer in migration studies at University of Roma Tre. Over the last decade a key part of his research has explored contemporary urban change and, more specifically, urban regeneration, public space, social movements and heritage. Cutting across this work has been an ongoing engagement with the themes of migration and ethnicity. His doctoral research in Naples, for example, included an analysis of public representations of immigration in the city vis-à-vis the multiple ways in which open public space was re-appropriated and re-signified by migrants themselves. More recently he has developed a keen interest in migrant politics. In August he will conduct preliminary fieldwork on migrant workers in the intensive agricultural sector in Southern Italy, in part to consider the extent to which the economic crisis and the Arab Spring have influenced forms of self-organization and political mobilization. This research will contribute to a jointly-authored paper “Borders in crisis. Competing actors at the southern edge of Europe in an era of political and economic upheaval” that will be presented at the fourth EUGEO (Association of European  Geographical Societies) conference in Rome in September.

Recent publications with a focus on migration and ethnicity include:

Nick Dines, 2012, Tuff City: Urban Change and Contested Space in Central Naples. New York, Berghahn Books

Nick Dines, 2009, ‘The disputed place of ethnic diversity: an ethnography of the redevelopment of a street market in East London’ in Regenerating London. Governance, Sustainability and Community in a Global City, eds. R. Imrie, L. Lees & M. Raco, Routledge, London, 254-272.

Nick Dines and Vicky Cattell, 2006, Public Space, Social Relations and Well-Being in East London. Bristol, Policy Press.



Alice Donald is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Law, Middlesex University. Her socio-legal research focuses on human rights and equality. She has published widely on the impact and implementation of, and public attitudes towards, human rights law in the UK. This has included five research reports for the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the impact of the Human Rights Act; the possible development of a Bill of Rights for the UK; the relationship between the UK and the European Court of Human Rights and the interaction of human rights, equality and religion or belief.  In 2011-12, she acted as a consultant to the Department of Health’s ‘Human Rights in Healthcare’ programme.

She is currently working on a book entitled ‘The Role of Parliaments in the Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights’ (co-authored with Philip Leach, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2014). She also has a research interest in socio-economic rights and is a Trustee of Just Fair, the campaign for the realisation of socio-economic rights in the UK. She has written several blogs and press articles on human rights for The Times, The Guardian and the UK Human Rights Blog. She previously worked as a commissioner, editor and broadcast journalist with the BBC World Service (1991-2005).

Recent and selected publications include:

‘Advancing debate about religion or belief, equality and human rights: Grounds for optimism?’ Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 2013 2(1) 50-71.

‘Developing a Bill of Rights for the UK: Lessons from overseas’ in I. Leigh and R. Masterman (eds.) The UK’s Statutory Bill of Rights: Constitutional and Comparative Perspectives, London: British Academy, 2013.

‘Evaluating the Impact of Human Rights Litigation on Policy and Practice: A Case Study of the UK’, Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2009 1(3) 339-361 (with E. Mottershaw).

Religion or belief, equality and human rights in England and Wales, Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2012 (with the assistance of Karen Bennett and Philip Leach).

The UK and the European Court of Human Rights, Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2012 (with Philip Leach and Jane Gordon).

Developing a Bill of Rights for the UK, Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010 (with the assistance of Philip Leach and Andrew Puddephatt).

Poverty, inequality and human rights: Do human rights frameworks make a difference?  York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2009 (with E. Mottershaw).

Evaluating the impact of selected cases under the Human Rights Act 1998 on public service provision, London: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009 (with E. Mottershaw).

Human rights in Britain since the Human Rights Act 1998: a critical review, London: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009 (with Philip Leach and Jenny Watson).

  • Family Migration. Regulation and Strategic Responses – 26 September 2013. For further information follow the link.
  • The rebirth of feminism? Situating feminism in the popular imaginary – 30 October 2013. Details to follow. For information contact: Elena Vacchelli, e.vacchelli@mdx.ac.uk
  • Inequalities and Discrimination in Access to Healthcare – 15 November 2013. Details to follow. For information contact: Eleonore Kofman, e.kofman@mdx.ac.uk

Report on Welfare Needs of BME communities: Gathering evidence to inform community interventions, Thursday 18th July 2013

The current economic crisis and the ongoing welfare restructuring are having a disproportionate impact on Black and Minority Ethnic communities throughout the UK. As far-reaching government changes to benefits, housing, healthcare, advice provision and other services affect an already deeply unequal population, local community organisations need to work and advocate even more effectively for their clients and members. At the same time, recent funding and policy trends – from the shift to service commissioning to the ‘social cohesion’ agenda – have raised new challenges for the sustainability of BME sector as a whole.

This successful event brought together practitioners, community activists, local policy makers and academics in an opportunity to engage with these issues through case studies, examples of good practices and ‘knowledge exchange’.  Key themes explored included:
• the impact of the current economic crisis and welfare restructuring on BME communities in London

• advice and welfare needs and gaps in service provision
• priorities and challenges for BME community organisations (including issues of sustainability)

• the role of community based research to gather evidence, inform decisions and empower communities


The day was also an opportunity to launch two recently completed research projects:

Welfare needs of Turkish and Kurdish Communities
Research team: Alessio D’Angelo, Ozlem Galip, Neil Kaye
In partnership with Day-Mer Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre (Hackney)

Welfare needs of Welfare Needs of Afghan Communities
Research team: Elena Vacchelli and Neil Kaye
In partnership with Paiwand, ARDO and Afghan Association London (Harrow)

Both projects used a ‘community-centered’ approach, which combined the analysis of official data sources with surveys, interviews with service users and stakeholders and local meetings and events to discuss preliminary findings. The fieldwork was conducted with the help of community researchers especially trained by Middlesex University.
Overall feedback from the event was very positive.

“a lot of issues have been covered relevant to the BME welfare needs – what could be changed, what needs to be challenged, the strategies that need to be used for future funding.”
“I definitely learnt a lot and will take away some helpful ideas”


On 9 July 2012 the Coalition government brought in new regulations which severely restricted for British citizens, permanent residents and refuges, the ability to bring in family members, especially spouses and elderly dependant parents.  The main barrier and the campaign against the new regulations has focused on the imposition of a minimum income of £18,600 per annum (this is well above  the gross annual wage of £13,400) and  the exclusion of either spouse’s prospective earnings or of third party support. It was clear from the beginning that these conditions would be discriminatory in relation to a wide range of groups, such as women, minority ethnic groups, young people and those living outside of London and the South East.

Several members of the SPRC (Prof. Eleonore Kofman, Dr. Helena Wray, Dr. Erica Howard) have been very active in presenting evidence on the discriminatory effects and questioning the basis of the evidence upon which the new regulations have been drawn up.  Helena Wray had also previously written a background report on the Chapti case (Bibi v SSHD) concerning the language requirement for spouses from non-English speaking countries and Eleonore Kofman and Elena Vacchelli had participated as partners in an EU Integration Fund project (PROSINT) which covered the admissions requirements linked to integration in different European countries.

In relation to the discriminatory and evidential aspects of the new regulations, Wray, Kofman and Howard were instructed by Birmingham solicitors to write a background paper in support of a judicial review. We analysed in detail the likely impact of gender discrimination (lower pay, part-time work, caring responsibilities), evidence from other European countries where available, and its intersectionality with ethnicity, nationality and age as well as the part played by the regional dimension with much lower salaries earned outside of London.  We also questioned the claims made by the government for the savings to the tax payer over a 10 year period and argued instead that it would lead to greater costs.

Details of our argument can be found in the website and the second witness statement.  A summary of these arguments can also be found in our submission “Divided families but some more divided than others” to the Family Migration Inquiry held by the All Party Parliamentary Migration Group on Migration. Based on this paper, Helena Wray gave evidence to a hearing at the APPG in March 2013. We produced a Press Briefing Sheet   on the fiscal implications and initial effects of the new rule.

The judgement for MM and Ors v SSHD (2013) EWHC 1900 (Admin) was delivered by Justice Blake on 5 July 2013.  Although Blake did not strike down the rules, he, did, however find that the ‘interference represented by the combinations of five key factors in the family life of the generality of ordinary cases is disproportionate and unlawful’.  A large number of categories, such as women, low earners and young people, have been disproportionately affected by these regulations. And as he pointed out the new regulations ‘impose a high price to pay for choosing a foreign spouse in an increasingly international world”.  Although the full ramifications have not yet been considered, and the government has appealed against the judgement (26 July 2013), compliance with it will require significant change to the policy and the pause suggests that this is now under contemplation. In the meantime, the judgement will assist many applicants who do not meet the income threshold to appeal successfully.