New migration has seen the arrival of large numbers of asylum seekers in the UK, many of whom subsequently become refugees. Integration policy and initiatives have placed a great deal of focus on securing housing for refugees and enhancing their employability. While academics stress that integration should be a two-way process, and highlight the need for institutions to adapt to meet migrant need, the vast majority of policy attention has focused on supporting refugees to adapt to life in the UK. Few initiatives and even less research attention has been paid to encouraging or exploring institutional adaptation. This article looks at the experiences of UK housing providers involved in the HACT Reach In initiative. The project was unusual in that it sought to encourage housing providers to adapt their approaches to service provision by embedding refugees into their everyday work. Using data collected via qualitative longitudinal methods the article examines the ways in which institutions changed their cultures and approaches to service delivery. It finds that initiatives that enable hosts and migrants to access new social fields create the opportunity for embedded integration that moves beyond the individual to impact upon institutions and argues that shifting our attention to institutions has much to offer in conceptual, empirical and policy terms.
- institutional change