The University of Bristol and Bradford-based charity QED have joined forces to uncover the challenges faced by Pakistani men migrating to the UK.

In the UK, South Asian groups have been the particular focus when concerned with marriage-related migration. Now new research shows that Pakistani men face many tough challenges that make their experience in Britain difficult.

The University of Bristol and QED Foundation delivered a pre-departure training programme aimed at preparing husbands for a new life in the UK. Two groups of men were also interviewed to hear about the experiences of those who had been settled for up to four years or for more than a decade.

One in five partners or spouses granted clearance to enter the UK in 2016 was from Pakistan.

“The men we spoke to before leaving didn’t seem very worried about encountering challenges when they moved to the UK,” says University of Bristol reader in sociology Dr Katharine Charsley.

“So it comes as a real shock to many new arrivals when they find themselves trapped in low-paid, dead-end jobs, working long and often anti-social hours to help to support their families in the UK, whilst also hoping to send remittances to aging parents or younger siblings left behind in Pakistan.”

Their research suggested that time and money were two main factors required for the husbands to gain the training and language skills needed to find better jobs. These were often lacking and limited their ability to develop new social networks.

The expectation of following the same career path that they had in Pakistan was common among some men that were interviewed. However, the only opportunities open to them

consisted of dish-washing, warehousing, catering and factory work. The reporter further shows that the men in the family are no longer the main breadwinner because their wives earned more. This created loss of self-esteem and disappointment.

Another common theme was newly husbands were often dependent on their in-laws to find them jobs within the family and offer accommodation, so could end up at the bottom of the family pecking order.

Adeeba Malik – QED Foundation Project Manager

The QED Foundation delivered two five-week pre-departure courses which involved English and employment improvement, which helped up to 24 men. The training also entailed practical skills such as shopping, banking and the use of public transport and health services. British heritage, society and culture, education, housing and law and order were also part of the programme. This aims to support them to develop a community and social life.

“QED Foundation pioneered the development of similar courses for women coming to join their husbands in the UK so we know that it’s a winning formula,” says project manager Adeeba Malik CBE. “Other EU countries have since adopted pre-departure training and there has recently been growing recognition of the needs of Pakistani migrant wives.

“But so far, the plight of husbands coming to the UK has been overlooked, with the result that many people find it impossible to make the most of their existing skills and qualifications and break out of a vicious circle of low pay, hard work and long hours.”

Recently, the issue of marriage-related migration has been gaining increasing political importance across Europe, with considerable tightening of spousal immigration regulations in countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands. Recent government reports including the Casey Review and the Integrated Communities Strategy White Paper have expressed concern about how migrants can be supported to settle in to their new lives but so far most of the research has directly focused on women rather than men.