Report – WSF Thematic Workshop “Migration, Diversity and Welfare: Knowledge, Gaps and Synergies”, 5 – 6 December, Birmingham

by Lailah Alidu (UPWEB)

Welfare State Futures in collaboration with Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRIS) University of Birmingham organised a thematic workshop on the topic Migration, Diversity and Welfare: Knowledge, Gaps and Synergies.  The workshop was held at the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham on the 5th and 6th of December, 2017. The workshop brought together academics working research projects in Europe under the theme migration, diversity and welfare. Some of the projects represented were UPWEB, MIFARE, MobileWelfare, HiNEWS, 4ls and TRANSWEL. This thematic workshop was co-ordinated by Prof Jenny Phillimore of UPWEB and Prof Anna Amelina of TRANSWEL. The aim of the workshop was to share knowledge, identify the gaps and create an opportunity to collaborate.

The workshop started with a welcoming note from Prof Jenny Phillimore of UPWEB, followed by presentations of the various projects from their leaders/representatives (UPWEB, MIFARE, MobileWelfare, HiNEWS, 4ls and TRANSWEL). There was also a session which involved speed networking where participants had the opportunity to meet each other and learn more about each other’s project. Speed-networking was followed with a thematic session involving discussions under the following groups:  health, inequalities, mobilities, attitudes and behaviours. These areas were discussed in the context of issues pertaining to migration, diversity and welfare. Participants found these sessions very insightful and thought provoking as it helped them identify gaps in research and potential new areas of research to explore. Later in the evening participants had dinner at the University of Birmingham’s Astor Restaurant, which also encouraged further networking.

On the second day of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to present their individual projects during parallel sessions. The presentations for the parallel sessions were grouped under the following themes: Diversity and Belonging: Implications for migrants access to social security; the role of attitudes and knowledge in accessing welfare; access to welfare in migration process; barriers and challenges; migration, welfare and social inclusion, welfare, transnationality and social citizenship. There was also a discussion on emerging themes, and suggestions on further collaborations and publications.

International Audience

About 35 participants attended from different academic backgrounds ranging from post docs, research fellows, PhD students and Professors. Attendees for this workshop came from all over Europe (Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands).

The workshop offered an exciting opportunity – some participants coming in contact with people working on similar topics for the first time. Attendees learned about the different projects, shared ideas and also engaged in discussions about sharing data. The event was also a great opportunity to engage in discussion on how to develop the enormous datasets derived from all the different projects. Notable in this workshop was participant’s interest to engage in discourse on ways to improve their own research projects learning from the others.

Overall participants agreed on the need for the more collaborative efforts to share knowledge on their research projects, synthesising research data, and learn from the different project methodologies. Participants suggested that the thematic workshop be done on regular basis and at the early stages of the project development as useful lessons learned could be implemented at the early stages.


First and foremost we want to thank all attendees of this inspiring workshop. We are grateful to all the discussants for the parallel sessions (Nando Sigona, Antje Lindenmeyer, Lisa Goodson, Laurence Lessard-Phillips) and for the expert discussant Prof Fiona Williams. Profs Marcel Lubbers, Simon Pemberton, and Hannah Bradby helped to identify themes from across the different presentations. We are grateful to Ann Bolstridge and the IRIS research volunteers (Boram Kim, Kyounghee Chong, Yohan Rubiyantoro, Woo Soek, Youngjoo Lee and Gemma Hennessy) who helped ensure the smooth organisation of the workshop.

For further voices on the workshop and a selection of presented papers, go to