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Research projects

Mothering in a hostile environment

(2017 - present)

My doctoral research explored the impact of the UK's Hostile Environment policies, insecure immigration statuses and the condition of 'no recourse to public funds' on mothers. For this London-based ethnographic study, I spent 20 months volunteering in support organisations and 'hanging out' with 22 individual mothers. I found that these policies constrained mothers' ability to access different types of support and shaped interpersonal relationships in particular ways. For my ESRC postdoctoral fellowship (2022-2023), I've been working with mothers, frontline practitioners and campaigners to identify what needs to change to improve support for families, and to help shape policy.

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To watch this short video summarising the key findings of my research, please click here.

Social networks in a pandemic

I initiated and led this project during the UK's first national lockdown to explore how public health measures in response to COVID-19 shaped individuals' everyday interactions with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. I interviewed 11 London residents every two to four weeks by phone/video-calling between April and July 2020.  Participants also created sociograms and kept diaries about their daily interactions. I found that lockdown measures shaped family and friendship practices, as well as perceptions of these relationships.


Photo by Lu Amaral on Unsplash

Families and Community in the time of COVID-19

The FACT-Covid study, led by Katherine Twamley, Humera Iqbal and Charlotte Faircloth at UCL, explored the challenges experienced by families with children in the UK during the time of COVID-19, and how they have attempted to overcome them. I reviewed relevant literature and helped with writing up findings from the project. 


Photo from ICO-FACT website

We are Movers

This project was a collaboration between staff and students from UCL and migrant women and children from the Helen Bamber Foundation and Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network in London. The aims were to centre migrant women's and children's perspectives and experiences, to co-produce knowledge relating to migration, and to build social networks and community participation.

Fair Food Futures UK
In this NIHR-funded project in Tower Hamlets and Bradford we aim to find out which models of food support are most beneficial to families who do not have access to regular meals. The project brings together researchers from UCL, University of York and Bradford Institute for Health Research, with staff from Tower Hamlets (London) and Bradford local authorities, and people  with lived experience of food insecurity.


In Tower Hamlets, I'm leading the project with Professor Claire Cameron. 


The wider study aims to help local authorities and national government to invest in the most accessible and helpful resources for families who experience food insecurity. The project is linked with the ActEarly Consortium.


Growing up in coastal towns

(2019 - 2023)

Young people growing up in coastal towns in the UK have poorer life chances than those living in otherwise similar non-coastal towns. I've been working with local partners - including Young Researchers - to co-produce two linked research projects to explore how young people feel about local places and spaces, the opportunities available to them, and their aspirations for themselves and their towns. We also interviewed older people who grew up in the area, exploring how being a teenager in Grimsby and Cleethorpes has changed over time – from the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s to the economic challenges and widening social inequalities emerging in recent years. We found that many young people (and older people) don't feel safe in public spaces - and young people's access to safe places for leisure and entertainment has reduced over time.  Opportunities for secure, well-paid work are limited locally. Inequalities grow between young people who move away and those who stay. 

(PIs Avril Keating and Claire Cameron)


Photo by Rachel Benchekroun

Early childhood education and care: COVID-19, environment and wellbeing

Building on our pilot study in 2020, this international project looked at the impact of COVID-19, lockdowns and public health measures on practitioners and children (and their parents/carers) in early childhood education and care settings. We interviewed practitioners and parents in England, Italy, Senegal and Aotearoa-New Zealand in April-June 2021. I conducted the fieldwork in London, England. We found that lockdown and subsequent public health measures restricted parents' and children's access to supportive social spaces.


Young Researchers Advisory Panel (YRAP)

The YRAP is a group of young people interested in improving things for young people affected by sexual violence. It is part of the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire. I supported the YRAP from 2019 to 2021, and helped create the infographic on the benefits of participation in research (below).


Image co-produced by  Zuhura Plummer and YRAP

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