Social work with undocumented migrants: Services, Construction of needs and Problem-solving approaches of Civil Society Organizations in Gothenburg-Sweden.
Abstract: As pride to the social work profession, social workers in the civil society honor the imperative to extend social work services to undocumented migrants by constructing this group as eligible and deserving within the civil society space. The aim of the study was to deepen understanding of social work practice with undocumented migrants by inquiring into the services, construction of needs and problem-solving approaches of civil society organizations in Gothenburg, Sweden. Research questions on; the nature and organization of services, construction of needs and problem-solving approaches, motives and perspectives underpinning service provision and the impact of structural and organizational factors on needs construction and practice were formulated to help this understanding.Through a qualitative research strategy, data was collected from four selected civil society organizations. A total of eight face to face semi-structured interviews with service providers (five social workers, two medical personnel and one volunteer) were conducted and the resulting findings analyzed using thematic data analysis. Four theoretical perspectives; The right to have rights, anti-oppressive theory, social constructionist theory and the theory of street level bureaucracy were utilized to analyze findings.Through an integrated service, under one roof approach, an approach that brings together a team of service providers to a central church, once every week, a range of services are provided to undocumented migrants. These include; basic support with food and clothing, health care, juridical and legal support. To arrive at service provision, the needs of undocumented migrants are constructed jointly between service providers and undocumented migrants themselves. However, there is an interaction between organization level constructions of needs and the macro (state) level constructions in ways that impact on the latter both positively and negatively. Resource inadequacies result into construction of more and less deserving categories.Beyond professional mandates and ethics, the motive for engaging with undocumented migrants are acts of solidarity, compassion, Christianity and overcoming feeling of guilt, shame and privilege. A human right, a child and victim perspective legitimize undocumented migrants for support. Conclusively, the civil society remains a fundamental space for renegotiation of the rights of undocumented migrants. However, it could also constitute a space where survival on the margins and inequalities are reinforced especially when constructions into more deserving categories are made and service provision is limited to basic needs. Therefore, this study implicates social workers to actively engage in reshaping and reforming national policies to guarantee equality of rights for undocumented migrants.
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