About: David Palmer

I am originally from the Republic of Ireland; I was born in Dublin and migrated to London for economic reasons in the 1980’s. I lived and worked in London for almost 20 years but have recently moved to Kent with my wife and three small children.

I hold a First Class BA Hons Degree in Irish Studies and English from the London Metropolitan University and also an MA in Migration, Health and Social Care (Distinction) and an MA in Social Research Methods (Distinction) from the University of Kent.

Much of my research draws on contacts within the voluntary sector and within refugee communities in London. I have much experience of working in senior positions in the voluntary sector which includes the mental health charity MIND, the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum and the St. Pancras Refugee Centre. My main research interests relate to Oral History and Ethiopian forced migration to the UK. I also have an interest in ethics, participative research methods, and in particular user-led research, mental health and forced migration. I have also lectured on the BA and MA in Migration, Health and Social Care modulesat the University of Kent.


I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Kent which uses oral narratives to explore the significance and impact that cultural traditions, rituals and traditional health beliefs have on the settlement of Ethiopians in the UK. This proposed study is both explorative and interpretative and primarily structured around oral narratives. It is an exploration of topic areas and interests that have evolved out of work carried out as part of two pilot studies on the Ethiopian Community in London (Palmer 2007 and 2009).

The central research topics which this study is aiming to address are:

1) Explore oral narratives to inform our understanding of forced migration, the settlement experience, and perceptions and experience of mental health, on individual Ethiopians in the UK..

2) Explore the significance of Ethiopian cultural traditions and cultural beliefs to individuals in exile, in order to inform our understanding of the perceptions, behaviours and subsequent experiences of Ethiopian forced migrants within the different social and cultural systems and expectations of Britain.

Recent Publications:

Palmer, D. (2011). A content analysis of oral narratives exploring factors which impact on, and contribute to, the mental ill health of the Ethiopian diaspora in London, UK. African Identities. 9(1):49-66.

Palmer, D (2010) The Ethiopian Buna (Coffee) Ceremony: Exploring the Impact of Exile and the Construction of Identity through Narratives with Ethiopian Forced Migrants in the United Kingdom, Folklore, 121, (3): 321-333(13)

Palmer D. (2010) "Every morning before you open the door you have to watch for that brown envelope": Complexities and challenges of undertaking oral history with Ethiopian forced migrants in London, U.K. (2010) Oral History Review, 37 (1):  35-53.

Palmer, D., Williams, .L, White, S., Chenga, C., Calabria, V., Branch, D., Arundal, S., Storer, L., Ash, C., Cuthill, C., Bezuayehu,H., and Hatzidimitriadoe, E. (2009) No one knows like we do – the narratives of mental health service users, trained as co-researchers. Journal of Public Mental Health 8(4)

Palmer, D., Alemu, E., Hopwood, J, (2008) Bridging the Gaps: Refugee Communities and mental health services in the London Borough of Camden. International Journal of Migration Health and Social Care 4(4) 2-20

Palmer, D and Mafia, C (2008) Questions of inclusion and exclusion. Are there ways of achieving 'real participation' of users from refugee and asylum seeking groups in service development at an institutional and treatment level? The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice.3, (3)

Palmer (2008) Ethical issues and their practical application in researching mental health and social care needs with forced migrants, Research Ethics Review4,(1) 20–25

Palmer, D (2007c)An exploration into the impact of the resettlement experience, traditional health beliefs and customs on mental ill-health and suicide rates in the Ethiopian community in London. International Journal of Migration, Mental Health and Social Care 3(1);44-55.

Palmer, D (2007b) Caught between inequality and stigma: The impact of psychosocial factors and stigma on the mental health of Somali forced migrants in the London Borough of Camden. Diversity in Health and Social Care Journal 4.1

Palmer, D (2007a) Face to face: a mentoring project for forced migrants. A life in a Day Journal11(4) 16-21

Palmer, D and Ward, K. (2007) 'Lost': listening to the voices and mental health needs of forced migrants in London. Medicine, Conflict and Survival 43

Palmer, D. (2006b) Imperfect prescription’: The perceptions, mental health experiences and challenges faced by the Somali community in the London Borough of Camden and service responses to them. Journal of Primary Care Mental Health. 4. 45-56.

Palmer, D. (2006a) ‘Completing the Jigsaw’ Combating health inequalities: a service provider’s response to the health needs of refugees in the London Borough of Camden. International Journal of Migration, Mental Health and Social Care 2(1);15-26.

Commissioned Audit Report

Palmer, D., and Ward, K. (2006).Unheard voices’: listening to Refugees and Asylum seekers in the planning and delivery of mental health service provision in London.A research audit on mental health needs and mental health provision for refugees and asylum seekers, London: Commission for Public Patient Involvement in Health