I started at The Open University in January 2017 as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology. Prior to that, I worked in the Thomas Coram Research Unit at University College London, Institute of Education. I have also held a lectureship at the University of Northampton. My academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity and the development of identities. I am a developmental and cultural psychologist by background and my theoretical and conceptual interests are grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development, past experience and cultural identity development. I am co-book editor for the journal Children & Society and have a long-standing involvement with the Special Interest Group (SIG21) in Teaching and Learning in Culturally Diverse Settings. This group is part of the European Association for Learning and Instruction (EARLI). Additionally, I belong to the British Psychological Society and belong to the Psychology of Women’s Section, Qualitative Methods in Psychology and Developmental Psychology section.
My academic interests lie in the area of migration, diversity, belonging, identities and practices, with a focus on children, young people and families. By background I am a developmental and cultural psychologist and my theoretical and conceptual interests are grounded in sociocultural theory, transitions, critical or contested ideas of ‘normative’ development, past experience and cultural identity development. More recently, I have begun to explore the concept of cultural contact zones in culturally diverse settings and how they act as social spaces of uncertainties, clashes, ambiguities, unequal power relations and possibilities.
I have been awarded the following research grants:
2019-2023: Between protection and exclusion: Separated child migrants’ care relationships and caring practices (Principal Applicant). Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
2017-2019: Evaluating ‘Enhancing Pragmatic LAnguage skills for Young children with social communication disorder’ (E-PLAYS): A feasibility study (Co-applicant). National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
2016-2017: NAOS Project: Strengthening teacher capacities for working in diverse schools (Invited consultant). Erasmus + project for the Sirius Network (University of Risbo, The Netherlands)
2016-2017: A warm welcome: Separated child migrants in the care-asylum nexus (Co-applicant). UCL Insitute of Education Special Projects Initiative
2016-2016: Exploring the care of children, by children in ‘the jungle’, Calais (Co-applicant). UCL Global Engagement Fund for initiatives with global partners.
2015-2016: Child language brokering: Spaces of belonging and mediators of cultural knowledge (Principal Investigator). Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). See here for Final Report
2012-2013: Child language brokering in school (Co-applicant). Nuffield Foundation
2011-2013: Mathematics learning trajectories of immigrant students: conceptualizing personal and sociocultural processes (Invited consultant). Dirección General de Investigación, Ministerio de Educación y ciencia, Spain.
2011-2012: Excalibur: CAMHs Multi-Agency Intervention and Support Barometer (Principal Investigator). South Essex Partnership Trust
2010-2011: Examining drinking cultures: motivations and behaviours of young people who binge drink in Northamptonshire (Co-applicant). Northants Partnership and Well Being and Centre for Children and Youth
2006-2008: Evaluating the clinical environment for users of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Principal Investigator). NIRH: NHS Estates Research and Development Fund, Department of Health
I have a longstanding interest in working with child language brokers, who are children and young people who translate and interpreter for family members after migration to a new country. This interest began whilst I was working in an ESRC funded-project, led by Dr. Lindsay O’Dell, which sought to understand young people’s representations of children’s work. Two ‘non-normative’ or ‘atypical’ forms of work that we focused on were child language brokering and young caring. From there, I became Co-I on a Nuffield Foundation funded project looking at child language brokering in schools. More recently, the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded a project under the ‘Translating Cultures Innovation Fund’ to examine how child language brokers negotiate cultural knowledge across different spaces of identity belonging. This project was supplemented by funding from a Beacon Bursary for Public Engagement fund, which facilitated arts-based workshops and exhibitions with young people who act as language brokers. I have also overseen the development of a web-based resource about child language brokering aimed at children and young people, professionals and academics.
Recently I have been working in collaboration with Rachel Rosen (UCL) on research that explores the care of children, by other children when they are unaccompanied refugee minors. Preliminary work in this area was funded by the UCL Global Engagement Fund and involves working with an interdisciplinary team of academics, professionals and charities/NGOs to examine how unaccompanied minors navigate care and asylum systems. The first pilot study involved a visit to the Refugee camp in Calais, France. A subsequent pilot study involved interviews with thirteen professionals involved in some form of 'care' relationships with separated child migrants (e.g. from social work, law, foster care, police and immigration and border control). This work has now been extended to a larger research grant, funded by the ESRC, which seeks to investigate how separated child migrants, and those involved in their care, make sense of, value, and take part in care relationships and caring practices within the immigration-welfare nexus in England.
In the past I have been funded by the National Institute of Health Research to examine users’ experiences of the built environment in outpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health settings. More recently, I have been invited by Risbo University to act in a consultancy capacity to be part of an EU ERASMUS Plus project called NAOS. The overall project seeks to improve issues of diversity and migration in schools. My involvement will include visits to schools to deliver workshops that use contemporary media to examine social psychological issues such as stereotyping and ethnic identity issues.
I am currently chair for the Masters in Psychology module 'Evaluating Psychology: Research and practice (DD803)'. In this module we explore three areas that make up a fundamental part of everyday life: Home, Work and Society. To do so, we explore those areas through the lens of social, cognitive, counselling and forensic psychology.
I welcome enquiries from students who wish to study for a PhD. I am most interested in research that takes a cultural and/or critical psychological perspective on everyday practices of children, young people and families. This could be in areas of migration, identities, belonging, transitions and diversity. I usually supervise qualitative projects.
Most of my impact work has centred on my work with child language brokers. Children’s language brokering activities take place against a backdrop of long-standing and ongoing austerity measures, which show no signs of easing. This has resulted in large cuts to language services, including professional and community translating and interpreting. The reality is that children will be used for this practice. Our aim then, is to explore and understand the lives of children and young people who are engaging in a practice that is already happening. All the negative situations, as well as the positive.
To help raise awareness of the issues surrounding the use of child language brokering we have been working with young people and using art-based approaches to enable to them to give their views.
2017 (11th July) ‘Being a young interpreter. Migration Museum Project, London, UK. Delivered as part of ESRC Knowledge Exchange Dialogues Scheme led by Erel, U., Mohan, G., & Keith, M. (2017). ‘Understanding and Communicating Migration Issues through Arts. With this blog: http://www.migrationmuseum.org/being-a-young-interpreter/
2016-2016: Many voices, many languages: Being a young interpreter. Bloomsbury Arts Festival (with Humera Iqbal and Claire Robins, UCL)
2015-2016: Many voices, many languages: Being a young interpreter. UCL Beacon Bursary for Public Engagement (with Humera Iqbal and Claire Robins, UCL)
2013-2015: Language Brokering: online public user information and engagement tool. HEIF Next Generation Fund (with Ann Phoenix)
As part of our explore ‘Language brokers as cultural mediators of cultural knowledge, identity and belonging’ study (funded by the AHRC and undertaken with Humera Iqbal, University College London) we asked a group of language brokers to develop their own podcasts about their experiences of arriving in a new country, learning a new language and becoming a language broker. They spoke about both positive things, as well as the challenges. You can listen to some of their narratives in this short animation about ‘My life as a young translator’. Our hope, is that this animation will give other language brokers the stimulus and confidence to talk about their language brokering practices.
|Role||Start date||End date||Funding source|
|Lead||01/May/2019||31/Jul/2022||ESRC Economic and Social Research Council|
The Children Caring on the Move (CCoM) project explores separated child migrants’ experiences of care, and caring for others, as they navigate the complexities of the immigration-welfare nexus in England. Often referred to as ‘unaccompanied minors’ in legal and policy contexts, as well as prior research, we use the term ‘separated child migrants’ to highlight that, in the main, child migrants who have been separated from parents/primary carers have diverse migration statuses and are not entirely alone. The project sits against the backdrop of rising numbers of children who have been separated from primary carers during migration and conflicting state rhetoric: protecting children on the one hand and immigration control on the other. ‘Care’ is ambiguous in this context because children may receive care because of their ‘child’ status or be excluded from provision because of their ‘migrant’ status. CCoM starts from the premise that care is not necessarily limited to that provided by an adult or the state, but can be provided by separated children themselves. Our pilot studies demonstrate that a crucial way separated migrant children survive the challenges of migration and settlement is through the care they provide and receive from other migrant children. Yet, little is known about separated children’s care for each other as they navigate contradictory, complex, and changeable immigration and welfare systems. Nor do we know how separated children’s care for each other is understood and treated by relevant adult stakeholders, including social workers, foster carers, educators, youth workers, religious leaders, legal professionals, and policy makers. Our pilot studies indicate this neglect means that policies and practices designed to support separated child migrants can end up harming, excluding or discriminating against them. For instance, children who care for each other may be forcibly separated in foster care placements, go ‘missing’ trying to reunite, or have their ‘child’ status questioned. In response, this project makes a needed and timely intervention. Placing separated children at its heart, CCoM asks: • How do separated migrant children, and those involved in the care of separated children, make sense of and value care relationships and caring practices? • How do separated child migrants build, sustain and navigate care relationships and caring practices in the immigration-welfare nexus? • What economic, social and political factors shape the priorities of relevant stakeholders and institutions, and how do these affect the treatment of separated children? • What are the theoretical and policy implications of these potentially heterogeneous understandings and practices of care within the context of the tension between protection and immigration control?