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Well-being and daily life in collective reception

a fragile balance between vulnerability and resilience
Year of Publication

This report is the result of a survey of residents at four Fedasil reception centers. Fedasil is the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers in Belgium. The aim of the study was to develop a better understanding of the well-being of applicants residing in a collective reception structure, in contrast to residents that live in an individual reception structure. To understand better the different dimensions, 10 aspects of well-being are distinguished: safety, health, integrity, meaningfulness, security, independence, belonging, leisure, participation and nature. The study analyses the different ways the applicants try to improve their well-being with behaviors divided in 4 categories, namely acceptance, adaptation, withdrawal and resistance. The study is based on a series of 106 in-depth interviews with adult residents, supplemented by ethnographic observation. It tries to understand which factors play a greater role in the quality of the reception, individual characteristics like gender, age, marital status…or institutional characteristics of reception facilities. In scientific literature there seems to be a disagreement on this. Based on how the participants describe their daily lives, it can be concluded that, in general, residents perceive their well-being rather negatively. The only dimension of well-being that is almost unanimously rated as positive is safety. The study tries to understand how this develops situations of resilience in individuals that manage to improve their well-being and vulnerability in individuals that don’t success in protecting their well-being.