WAST PEER research project

In May 2017, Dr Jenna Murray de López and Dr Rubina Jasani began a community engagement and research partnership with the grassroots organisation Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST Manchester).

WAST logo

WAST Manchester is a charity run by and for female asylum seekers who act to raise awareness of issues affecting destitute migrants in the UK through campaigning and public speaking. This partnership has led to conference and campaigning collaborations between WAST members and HCRI students.

In January 2018, HCRI formed a peer research group made up of 20 WAST members.

Throughout 2018, the group attended the University regularly to complete a programme of research training. The training that the women receive has been devised by Dr Rubina Jasani and Dr Murray de López drawing from their anthropological expertise working in health and community activism in Latin America, India and the UK.

The project prioritises a Peer Ethnographic Evaluation Research (PEER) approach to defining and addressing the core issues that impact on the lives of destitute female asylum seekers in the UK. This is the first time the PEER approach has been developed with a view to creating a sustainable and equitable community research programme.

The project's overall objectives were:

  • build capacity and create conditions for empowerment among female forced migrants using a PEER approach;
  • develop a new approach to collaborative ethnographic research that benefits participants and institutions equally;
  • continuously monitor progression and incorporate Key Informant Monitoring into the existing PEER framework.


Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation Research (PEER): forced migrants and the challenge of self-advocacy

July 2018-April 2019

This jointly funded project arose from pilot research done as part of the training, which revealed little is known about the strategies women use to support each other when no one else will.

This project used creative methods to draw attention to the skills and strategies that migrant women develop when they come together in surviving many years of destitution and social exclusion.

The project aimed to create educational resources to raise awareness of these issues among professionals who encounter migrant women and their dependents.

Events and project social engagement

  • Special panel presentation on women's empowerment organisations, 18th IUAES World Congress, Brazil, July 2018
  • Listen To Our Voices book launch, Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square, June 2018
  • National refugee women's conference Manchester, November 4, 2017
  • World on the move: Migration, societies and change conference, 30 October to 1 November 2017, The University of Manchester
  • Co-presented lecture on health, gender and ageing in situations of social abandonment: MA Humanitarian and Conflict Response, 2017



  • British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants
  • ESRC, Impact Acceleration Account


  • Social Responsibility and Cultural Engagement funding awards, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester
  • Making a Difference Awards, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, The University of Manchester
  • HCRI Research Support

Associated researchers

WAST publications

The women of WAST have published two collections of their writing about their experiences as asylum seekers, Am I Safe Yet? and Listen To Our Voices!. You can read about how Dr Siobhan Brownlie worked with WAST to produce 'Listen To Our Voices!'.

All proceeds will go to WAST to support them in helping female asylum seekers and campaigning for human rights for asylum seekers.

These publications can be purchased directly from WAST by emailing contactwastmanchestercontact@gmail.com.

Further information

For more information about our work with WAST, please contact Dr Rubina Jasani at rubina.jasani@manchester.ac.uk