“This place means freedom to me”: needs-based engagement with marginalized migrant Muslim women in London

Thompson, Naomi and Nasimi, Rabia. 2022. “This place means freedom to me”: needs-based engagement with marginalized migrant Muslim women in London. Community Development Journal, 57(2), pp. 339-359. ISSN 0010-3802 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper draws on a case study of a community-based organisation working with marginalised Muslim women in London from refugee and migrant backgrounds. The organisation delivers a model of practice that involves ESOL classes, practical/informative workshops, and social integration in a women-only community space rather than these elements being accessed separately in often formal spaces. The article draws on data collected as part of the first year of an evaluation of a three-year funded project to engage the women. The data includes registration information about the participant group, a bespoke workshop evaluation form completed by the women each month, and interviews with beneficiaries, volunteers and staff. Our research finds that an integrated, bottom-up approach is successful in engaging isolated women and impacts on their lives through increased wellbeing, knowledge and skills, empowerment, and freedom. Whilst asset-focused interventions have become dominant in community development, there is a danger that a deliberate focus away from the needs of vulnerable groups may cement rather than tackle inequalities, and collude with a political and neoliberal agenda that promotes individualism and austerity. We argue it is necessary to develop interventions that respond to the needs of marginalised groups before building on people’s strengths to address them. Our case study offers evidence for this.

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Additional Information:

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Community Development Journal following peer review. The version of record Thompson, Naomi and Nasimi, Rabia. 2020. “This place means freedom to me”: needs-based engagement with marginalised migrant Muslim women in London. Community Development Journal, ISSN 0010-3802 [Article] is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsaa029.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Faiths and Civil Society


13 July 2020Accepted
22 August 2020Published Online
April 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Jul 2020 09:13

Last Modified:

05 May 2022 14:01

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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