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Separated child migrants are the core of new collaborative research

Date 21.05.2019

How child migrants who have been separated from their family or guardians experience care and caring in the UK forms a new collaborative research project.

Dr Evangelia Prokopiou, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Northampton, is part of the ‘Children Caring on the Move’ project* tasked with understanding more about how separated child migrants – and those involved in their care – make sense of, value, and take part in care relationships and caring practices.

Led by the Open University, the research commenced earlier this month and Dr Prokopiou will act as co-investigator of the project. This will involve her mentoring the young researchers within refugee communities by helping to develop and deliver training materials, supporting the development of design, analysis and dissemination, and advising and supporting the researchers with ethical or methodological concerns. The project is expected to conclude with a full report in July 2022.

Approximately 65.6 million people globally are displaced from their home communities, many of them children. The number of children who have been separated from their primary carers at some point during their migration journeys has risen dramatically.

When separated migrant children arrive in the UK, they face conflicting treatment. They are protected as ‘children’ and entitled to the same rights to care as all other children. But, they are often treated as ‘suspect’ and excluded from welfare provision because of their status as ‘migrants.’

Dr Prokopiou commented: “Despite the rising number of separated child migrants, little is known about how they care for each other as they navigate the complex and changeable immigration-welfare nexus in England”.

“Placing separated children at its heart, this study will ask the questions so often missed or ignored by opinion leaders and policy makers.”

Dr Prokopiou is a cultural psychologist particularly interested in the impact of immigration and cultural change on identities, families and communities and constructions of diverse, ‘non-normative’ childhoods (including separated migrants and child language brokers).

She is also the lead of the Diversity, Community and Identity (DCI) research group in the University’s Faculty of Health and Society.

*This research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the full list of research partners is:

  • University of Northampton (Dr Evangelia Prokopiou)
  • Open University (Dr Sarah Crafter, Lead of the Project)
  • UCL (Dr. Rachel Rosen, Co-Lead and Dr. Elaine Chase)
  • University of Liverpool (Professor Helen Stalford)
  • University of Oxford (Dr. Ellie Ott)
  • University of Bedfordshire (Professor Ravi Kohl).

Kamena Dorling is a consultant providing expert advice in her capacity of Head of Policy and Law at Coram’s Children’s Legal Centre.

The study is supported by local organisations such as the MEENA Centre in Birmingham and Refugee Youth as well as national organisations like Barnardo’s and the Refugee Council.