What Really Matters to Refugees

Real social contacts to the German population are important to refugees. They wish for an intact social life and stable personal relationships. These are the first results of a study by the Expert Council’s Research Unit and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. What makes this survey unique is that refugees can address their own topics.

Robert Bosch Stiftung | January 2017

There is much talk about refugees in Germany, but what do the refugees think themselves? A study by the research unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung examined for the first time the living situation of asylum seekers from their own perspective. They could address topics that are important to them in open interviews.

Refugees Want Real Social Contact

The initial results show that the desire for real social contact is very important to the refugees. Dr. Cornelia Schu, director of the SVR research unit, said, "As thankful as the refugees are for the support they receive from social workers and volunteers, these supporting contacts cannot replace true friendships. The refugees want to develop real and stable personal relationships."

Other topics that refugees often cited are the desire to learn German and to find work. The hurdles for bringing their families to Germany and the uncertainty of the asylum process are common stress factors. There is also the feeling that not enough information is provided on the current status of the asylum process or other concerns like improving their living situation.

A Task for Civil Society

Uta-Micaela Dürig, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, sees this desire for personal contact as a task for civil society: "The contributions of the many volunteers who actively support the refugees with their practical assistance cannot be overstated. At the same time, we should not forget that an invitation to participate in a game of soccer, sing in a choir, or help in a neighborhood initiative is also an important signal to let the refugees know that they are welcome - it is the first step towards building a personal relationship."

Goal of the Study

The goal of the research project is to provide a scientifically sound description of the current living situation of refugees in Germany from their own perspective. Practical recommendations for an improved reception and integration of refugees should be developed from these findings. The complete study will be published in November 2017.