Family Reunion Integration Service

Family Reunion Integration Service

01 October 2018 - present

Country: United Kingdom

Around one in three refugees come into the UK via family reunion. Unlike those who arrive through the asylum process or resettlement programmes, people who come into the UK on a family reunion visa are not offered any formal support to access services and are left on their own to navigate our complex health, education, housing and welfare services.

The new Family Reunion Integration Service (FRIS) supports families through core casework to ensure they are able to access basic rights, including registering with a GP, gaining access to universal credits, having appropriate accommodation, and getting children into school.

Further to accessing services, families need support to find their way into their new community and to develop social connections. The FRIS support model twins devolved locations with non-devolved locations across the UK to explore how to support and strengthen social connections both within family units and across communities.

The eight locations are:

Birmingham, Leicester, Plymouth, Sheffield, Leeds, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff.

QMU's role in this project

Researchers from the Institute for Global Health and Development will lead the research on how social connections between resettled families, their peers and the host communities affect their integration experience.

Using a research model developed by IGHD researchers, this project aims to better understand the role of social networks in integration. It will explore the social connections amongst and between refugee families and their communities over time, and will show how these connections influence integration into a new location.

IGHD is in the process of developing a researcher-led App to measure people’s knowledge of services, willingness to engage with them, and levels of trust in them. The team will test this App with a sample of reunited families being supported by FRIS at key points in their integration journey.

Additionally, the research team will conduct participatory and in-depth qualitative research to further explore the role of social networks in integrating communities.

The analysis will focus on which factors accelerate reunited families to develop social connections and support systems – the social bonds and bridges. This will help address important challenges faced by the sector nationally, and inform policy and practices aimed at enabling reunited families embed better in their new communities. The research will support a growth in the knowledge base on refugee integration and the development of social connections. The results will be used to inform policy and practice.

Research will contribute to programme design, and both the internal and external capacity building programmes at the British Red Cross.

Researchers at the Institute for Global Health and Development will use methodologies from previous research and develop an app to measure how the participants in the Family Reunion Integration Service are connected with others and organisations.

The data collected through the app will assess how much the participants know about services available to them, how much they use them and how much they trust them. From the information gained, the researchers will also be able to identify how different types of social connections improve the refugees’ experience of integration.


The Family Reunion Integration Service is a partnership between British Red Cross, Barnardo’s and Queen Margaret University.

For more information on the project, visit the British Red Cross website.

This project is part funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union.


The research project is divided into two phases, with the second informing the first. The research objectives for the first, exploratory phase are:

- To map and explore the role of bonding social capital in processes of integration

- To map and explore the role of bridging social capital in processes of integration

- To map and explore the role of linking social capital in processes of integration.