Digital exclusion among people seeking asylum in England

Exploring the impact of digital exclusion on experiences of accessing healthcare among people seeking asylum in England

The project aims

We at Demsoc designed and delivered a peer research project for the British Red Cross as part of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance. We researched how digital exclusion impacts access to healthcare for people seeking asylum, and their overall experience of receiving healthcare

The report was comprised of the following aspects:

  • The peer interviews with people seeking asylum in England identified barriers to healthcare through digital means faced by people seeking asylum.
  • The insights provide new knowledge informed by the lived experience of those who are seeking asylum and are struggling or falling through the gaps in accessing healthcare services due to digital exclusion. 
  • The interviewees also suggested ideas for improvements to ensure access and a positive experience to people seeking asylum who are in need for healthcare services. 
  • Through initial recommendations developed by the peer researchers, the British Red Cross provided recommendations on what needs to change to ensure that people seeking asylum can access healthcare services equitably. 

Here you can get a quick snapshot of the methodology of the peer research.


Training and co-design workshop

The Demsoc project team facilitated a 1,5-day workshop to create a space for shared understanding, train the peer researchers to conduct the interviews, and to co-design the research tools and ethics process. The collaboration entailed creating a topic guide that was used for the interviews, a consent form and an information- and signposting sheet that was given to the participants. 


Five peer researchers with lived experience conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with people seeking asylum in England. The researchers were recruited through a network of organisations working with people seeking asylum and refugees in the UK. Participants were then recruited both by our networks and the peer researchers.

The interviews covered the thematic areas of digital access before coming to England and in England, experience in using digital technologies to access healthcare, and healthcare access during the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants were also asked their solutions to improving digital and healthcare access for people seeking asylum in England. The peer researchers took notes during the interviews for analysis. The participants together spoke a total of 14 different languages and more than half of them were living in Yorkshire while the rest in the Midlands and London. They were staying in different accommodation such as dispersal and contingency accommodation, accommodation provided by charities and or staying with family or friends. 


The Demsoc team coded and thematically analysed the interviews, and after that, the peer researchers joined three online analysis sessions where they shared and discussed the themes they had identified and validated the themes identified by Demsoc. During the session, the researchers also developed recommendations that the British Red Cross used to write the final versions of.

Want more?

  • Dive into Considerations when establishing meaningful collaboration with participants and pear researchers on our medium account
  • Read the full report here to find the key insights and the detailed methodology.
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