Islamic social work in the UK: the service user experience

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Warden, Rosalind ; Scourfield, Jonathan Bryn ; Huxley, Peter (2017)

There has been growing interest in religion and spirituality within social work literature. However, little empirical research has explored Islamic welfare organisations and especially their significance for service users. This article presents findings from an evaluation of a British Islamic social work organisation (Ihsaan Social Support Association (ISSA) Wales), drawing on qualitative interviews with Muslim service users (n = 8) and quantitative findings from the service user database (n = 495), a quality-of-life assessment (n = 42) and a satisfaction survey (n = 36). In discussing the qualitative findings, religious authority, authenticity, culture, gender and the role of mosques are considered in analysing why the organisation’s services were perceived as beneficial to their Muslim service users. Over three-quarters of those responding to a satisfaction survey reported that the help from the organisation had improved their well-being, but quantitative data from assessment and review showed no evidence of either improvement or deterioration in quality of life over time, with the exception of social life, where there was a significant improvement. Overall, in exploring the experiences of these service users, the findings highlight the diversity within the category of the ‘Muslim service user’ and the potential contribution that Islamic social welfare organisations may make in meeting the needs of British Muslims.
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