Our findings have been used to inform public understanding of local community responses to displacement. This has had a variety of societal benefits, enhancing diverse audiences’ understanding of and engagement with situations of displacement in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. This has been achieved through a variety of forums, including the project website and blog, direct engagement with international and local media (BBC, Channel 4, The Conversation, The Guardian, the BBC World Service, BBC Radio 3 and others) and involvement in the curation of two exhibitions (including the Imperial War Museum’s 2020-21 ‘Refugee’ Season and a UCL-Based ‘Moving Objects’ exhibition in 2019). The project website has facilitated a global community of conversation, with the project blog engaging over 68 contributors through thematic conversations arising from our project findings, with audiences in 180 countries, with our findings used as reference resources for a global community of scholars and practitioners.
We have also held and/or participated in a large number of in-person and online events and workshops where our findings have been used to inform public understanding. These include our two-day project conference held at UCL. The outcome of this was a reported change in understanding about the roles played by local displacement affected communities by attendees, and new plans for action and practice by representatives of humanitarian and development practitioners who attended and contributed to this and other events.
Our findings have also been used to inform policy and practice. This has had a variety of social impacts, informing professional training programmes for humanitarian practitioners working with refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. For example, our findings have been used and engaged with through knowledge exchange workshops with regionally-based humanitarian practitioners and local-level organisations in Beirut (Lebanon) in 2017 and 2019 and in Yale USA in 2019; high-level policy dialogues with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva (Switzerland) in 2017 and 2018 ; showcasing of research to UK MPs at the UK House of Commons in 2019; the inclusion of ‘good practice examples’ on the UNHCR best practice database in 2019; a major academic-practitioner conference in London in 2019, a major practitioner webinar hosted by the British Council in 2020; the incorporation of case-studies in the DCA Learning Lab training materials for NGO practitioners. The PI’s conceptualisation of refugee vulnerabilities was cited as a model that UNHCR should follow when engaging with local communities following a policy dialogue in 2017. Likewise, the project secured additional funding from the UCL Knowledge Exchange Fund to carry out a workshop with local practitioners in Beirut in 2017 who were supporting communities in Lebanon and Jordan. This collaborative workshop resulted in a multi-lingual report on local community responses to refugees, raising awareness of the issues facing practitioners in DAC countries and identifying policy recommendations to better support them and the communities they work with.
Our findings have also been used to support further research and policy engagement in five DAC countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Mexico, Malaysia and Cameroon, as well as in Greece. For example, the project secured additional funding as part of the British Council USA’s ‘Bridging Voices’ programme which enabled the Refugee Hosts project to collaborate with colleagues at Yale University on a project titled “Religion and Social Justice for Refugees”. We convened a two-day workshop in New Haven, Connecticut, USA in May 2019 which was attended by INGO representatives, as well as members of local community organisations from Mexico, and our project partners. Following this, our project led the writing of a major report for the British Council based on the workshop and ongoing research discussions, which was published in March 2020. This was then developed into a shorter policy brief, which was presented at a webinar attended by practitioners and policy makers working in all six countries covered by the research in May 2020.
Our findings have also informed NGO training modules for practitioners working with faith-based communities in DAC countries. In collaboration with our project partner, the Joint Learning Initiative for Faith and Local Communities, our findings directly addressed gaps in practitioner knowledge, and the trainings were positively received in evaluations, with participants reporting a change in views.
Across these selected public and policy-related activities, the project has been able to develop significant short-term societal impact, improving people’s understanding about the roles local communities play in contexts affected by displacement.
Through targeted public and policy engagement, the Refugee Hosts research project has been able to inform the training of practitioners, collaborate with locally based organisations and influence UNHCR policy.
Featured image: a workshop in a neighbourhood in Beirut (c) L. Harsch