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Research to investigate the experiences of the black African population in Britain

Two researchers at the University of Kent have been awarded £98,924 by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to investigate the topic Black Africans in Britain: Integration or Segregation.

This one-year study has been funded under the Understanding Population Trends and Processes programme, the aim of which is to promote the use of large-scale social science data sets.

The researchers are Lavinia Mitton, Lecturer at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, and Peter Aspinall, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Services Studies.

Black Africans are an increasingly important group in terms of their numbers – some 485,000 were enumerated in Great Britain in the 2001 census – and rapid growth rate. In London (where 80% live), the population of 387,700 in 2001 is projected to increase to 512,000 in 2011 and 581,600 in 2021, a 50% increase over two decades. The migration channels of black Africans are complex and include those who came to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, young black Africans who have migrated for education, economic migrants, and refugees and asylum seekers. Among the latter, Congo, Somalia and Zimbabwe are now major contributor countries, many in these communities encountering significant language difficulties on settling in the UK, substantial poverty, and financial and other stresses related to being in dislocated, transnational families.

Against this background this programme of research will use data from the 2001 Census, government surveys, NHS, and local education authorities to address the following questions: to what extent are black Africans integrating with wider British society in terms of demographic profile, socio-economic position, patterns of residence, and civic engagement?; what are the current trends and likely patterns to emerge in the next decade or two?; and how can UK policy makers and practitioners address their needs?

The research will endeavour to focus on the substantial diversity of black Africans in terms of ethnicity, national origins and identity, religion, language, channels of migration and socio-economic position.

The findings of this project will provide the research community, census agencies, government departments, and the providers of educational, health and other public services with a comprehensive insight into this much neglected ethnic group.

The study is due to finish in March 2009.

Gary Hughes | alfa
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