Research Forum

The Consortium for Street Children’s Research Forum comprises some of the most experienced and relevant thinkers on street-connected children across the globe. Chaired by Professor Lorraine van Blerk, the Research Forum has three core members and fourteen active research associates who together aim to support CSC in:

Increasing the quality and diversity of research – with and about young people with street connections – available to practitioners and policy makers,

Fostering and collaborating on new, ethical and well-founded research to inform programmes and policies affecting children and youth with street connections.

Encouraging take-up of existing, ethical, well-founded research by practitioners,researchers, policy-makers, corporate responsibility programmes and others committed to realising the rights of street-connected children and youth.

To get in touch with us, please write to:



Core Members


Professor Lorraine van Blerk | Dundee University, UK (Chair)

Dr Lorraine van Blerk

Professor Lorraine van Blerk is Professor in Human Geography at the University of Dundee. She has conducted research with street-connected children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 15 years and has written more than 60 academic and policy-related publications in this area.

In particular Lorraine has a keen interest in working for more effective participation of street children in both research and policy practices and this has featured widely in her writing.

Professor Gareth Jones | London School of Economics, UK

Dr Gareth JonesGareth Jones is a Professor of Urban Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science where he teaches at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He is also a co-editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies, a member of The British Academy Area Studies Panel for Latin America and the Caribbean, and an invited member of the Advisory Committee of the Centre of Excellence for Statistics on Governance, Public Security and Justice, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (Mexico).

A substantial part of his recent research has focused on street children, youth and violence, including an ESRC-funded study, entitled ‘Being in Public: The Multiple Childhoods of Mexican Street Children’.

He has been trustee and chair of the International Children’s Trust (ICT) and a trustee of the Consortium for Street Children.

Selected publications:

Associate Members


Professor Lewis Aptekar | San Jose State University

Lewis Aptekar is currently Professor of Counsellor Education at San Jose State University. He is past President of the Society of Cross-cultural Research. Some of his academic awards include two Fulbright scholarships (Colombia and Swaziland), a Senior Fulbright Scholar award (Honduras), Nehru Visiting Professor, (University of Baroda, India), a Kellogg Foundation/Partners of the Americas Fellowship in International Development, a Rotarian International Ambassadorship (Zambia), and a scholarly residency at the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Centre (Italy).

Professor Aptekar’s books include Street children of Cali; Environmental disasters in global perspective; In the Lion’s Mouth: Hope and Heartbreak in Humanitarian Assistance; and Street children and homeless youth: A cross-cultural perspective.

Professor Aptekar began his research with street children in Cali, Colombia in the 1980s. He has since conducted studies in several continents about street children, victims of natural disasters and people displaced by war. He has focused on cross-cultural comparisons, the public’s response to street children, gender differences and the changing dynamics of adolescence. His work is directed toward practitioners, policy makers, and researchers.


Dr. Harriot Beazley | University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Harriot BeazleyDr. Harriot Beazley is a children’s geographer and development practitioner with experience in participatory child-centered research with children and young people, in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. She is a Lecturer in Human Geography and Development Studies and a Research Affiliate to the Sustainability Research Centre at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). She is also a Research Fellow with the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland (Australia). Since 1995 Harriot’s research  has focussed on rights-based and participatory research with street boys and girls in Indonesia and with other marginalised working children in the region.

Harriot is the Commissioning Editor (Australia & Pacific) for Children’s Geographies: Advancing Interdisciplinary Understanding of Younger People’s Lives (Routledge, London).


Dr. Ruth Edmonds | Centre for Research on Families & Relationships

Ruth EdmondsDr. Ruth Edmonds is a Director of the UK-based firm Keep Your Shoes Dirty where she manages research projects for clients including think-tanks, international development organizations and public sector organizations. Ruth has over a decade of experience in ethnographic and participatory research with street connected children in Africa and Asia.

Related links:

Centre for Research on Families & Relationships


Dr. Paula Heinonen | Research Associate, International Gender Studies Centre (IGS) at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

Paula Heinonen is currently completing two commissioned books on memory and biography. She was College Lecturer in Gender Studies, Politics and Anthropology of Development at Hertford College, University of Oxford from 2004-2017. Paula has been tutor and dissertation supervisor for Visiting and other students across the university since 2001. She was Visiting Fellows Program Coordinator, International Gender Studies Centre at Lady Margaret Hall and tutor in Social Anthropology for the Human Sciences and Anthropology and Archaeology degrees course as well as being the coordinator of the Gender Option course. She acted as dissertation supervisor, examiner and occasional lecturer for the M. St. in Women’s Studies degree course of the University of Oxford and D.Phil supervisor at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. Prior to that she was Senior lecturer in anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology as well as Head of Research at the Centre for Research and Training for Women (now renamed Gender Studies Centre), University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


  • D.Phil in Anthropology (Durham University)
  • B.A. and M.A. Human Sciences (University of Oxford)
  • Diploma in Development (Ruskin College, Oxford)

Research Interests:

Anthropology, feminisms, masculinities, childhood studies, street children, youth gangs, knowledge production, memory and biography.

Languages: English, Amharic, French, Italian, German

Selected publications:



Dr. Sarah Johnsen| Heriot-Watt University, UK

Sarah Johnsen

Dr. Sarah Johnsen is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Housing, Urban and Real Estate Research (IHURER) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.  She has previously worked for Queen Mary University of London, the University of York, and The Salvation Army (UK & Ireland). Much of her work focuses on homelessness and related forms of street culture such as begging and street drinking.  She has particular expertise in the area of youth homelessness and a strong interest in the ethics and challenges associated with research involving vulnerable groups.

 Selected publications:


Dr. Vicky Johnson | University of Brighton

Dr. Johnson has over twenty years of experience as a researcher and practitioner in social and community development and children and young people’s participation. Dr. Johnson’s research interests include: links between socio-ecological and socio-cultural theories and participatory practice; intergenerational dynamics; age, gender and inclusion; ethical aspects of research with children; participatory impact assessment; and mixed method and participatory action research. Dr. Johnson has led programmes and partnerships in Africa, Asia and Latin America for international non-governmental organisations including ChildHope, and provided expert advice for a range of UN and government departments including UNHCR, ILO and DFID. She has experience in the following countries: Australia, Angola, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Peru, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, and the UK.

As Principal Research Fellow at the University of Brighton, Dr. Johnson lectures on international comparative education and leads international programmes of research with marginalised children and young people. In Kenya, UNGEI funded research identifies subjective wellbeing indicators from the perspectives of street connected girls, and resources developed for the Bernard van Leer Foundation on engaging young children in research includes case studies from Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Peru, and Nepal. Dr. Johnson has conducted extensive research in Nepal pre and post conflict, for example ethnographic and participatory research with ActionAid, Listening to Smaller Voices, gained international recognition and recent case study research for the International Planned Parenthood Federation including youth-led photo research has informed a new model for global youth programming to realize sexual rights.


Professor Phil Mizen | Aston University

Professor Mizen is a sociologist of children and young people with a particular interest in work, labour and employment. For many years he has worked with Dr. Yaw Ofosu-Kusi (Dean of Social Sciences, University of Education, Winneba) researching the lives of street and working children, and children who live and work in the informal sector, in Ghana. Professor Mizen (and Dr. Yaw) has published extensively on children’s experiences and understandings of living and working both on the street and in informal settlements; and on the development of methodological approaches to research with and for children that are attentive to their voices. A further key concern of Professor Mizen’s research and writing has been the engagement with debates about children’s agency as they apply to the lives of children living in especially difficult circumstances. Professor Mizen regularly receives invitations to speak about this work, including those from the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch, Switzerland and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, Harvard University. He has also held visiting positions at the Council for the Development of Social Science in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal, University of Education, Ghana, and the City University, Hong Kong. Professor Mizen is currently external examiner for the MA Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights at the Institute of Education, University of London, and is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Work, Employment and Society.


Michele Poretti | University of Geneva

Michele Poretti

Michele Poretti is Lecturer at the University of Teacher Education of the State of Vaud, in Lausanne, and Research associate at the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies of the University of Geneva. He has a multidisciplinary academic training (economics, public policy evaluation, children’s rights, sociology) and a decade-long experience in the humanitarian field, namely within the International Committee of the Red Cross, including fieldwork, policy development and evaluation. He is currently completing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Geneva, with a thesis on ‘Children, rights and politics’.

His research interests comprise policy analysis and bottom-up approaches to children’s rights. He has studied, in particular, the international child rights agenda since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, looking into the factors that have shaped the trajectories of categories such as ‘street children’, ‘violence against children’, ‘working children’ or ‘missing children’. He has also assessed the relevance of local childhood and youth policies in Switzerland through the perspectives of 8-10 year-old children with different socio-economic backgrounds, including children with strong connections to the street.

Selected publications

  • Poretti, M. (2016). Enfances urbaines et politiques publiques. Regards croisés d’enfants de différents quartiers de la ville de Sion, Sion, Suisse : Centre interfacultaire en droits de l’enfant, Université de Genève.
  • Poretti, M. (2016). L’ascension des « enfants disparus » à l’agenda de l’Occident. Enquête sur une nouvelle frontière de l’intolérable. Frontières, 27(1-2), available online:
  • Poretti, M., Hanson, K., Darbellay, F., & Berchtold, A. (2014). The rise and fall of icons of ‘stolen childhood’ since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Childhood, 21(1), 22-38.
  • Poretti, M. (2012). Les paradoxes de l’institutionnalisation. Un regard rétrospectif sur deux décennies de plaidoyer international pour les droits de l’enfant. Journal des Droits des Jeunes – Belgique, 320, 30-36.
  • Poretti, M. (2008). Preventing children from joining armed groups. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 27(4), 123-141.


Professor Irene Rizzini | International Centre for Research on Childhood, Brazil

Irene RizziniFor over 20 years Irene Rizzini has directed the center she founded, the International Center for Research and Policy on Childhood at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (CIESPI at PUC-Rio). At PUC-Rio She teaches issues in childhood and youth. Her work includes analysing the condition of street children and other low-income children, discussing how to improve their health, education and welfare, to assist policy makers, advocates and professionals.

Selected publications from Professor Rizzini can be found at the CIESPI website


Dr. Anita Schrader McMillan | University of Warwick, UK

Anita SchraderDr. Anita Schrader McMillan is a Visiting Fellow at Warwick University Medical School. While Director of the Consortium for Street Children she coordinated early studies on street-connected girls, human rights law and street children, and on the prevention of street migration. Her current areas of interest are parenthood in low income settings, promotion of resilience in boys in violent contexts and promotion of parental sensitivity and infant attachment security in low income settings.  She is currently coordinating an 18 month study of family reintegration of former street children for JUCONI Mexico and Family for Every Child.


Professor Daniel Stoecklin

Daniel Stoecklin is Associate Professor in Sociology, at the University of Geneva. His areas of research and teaching are the sociology of childhood, children’s rights, street children, participation and the capability approach. He also works with the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (Sion, Switzerland) on a training programme in China. He has been involved with several NGO projects in the field of children in difficult situations, and as an Independent Expert for the Council of Europe regarding children’s participation. His most recent publication in the field of street children: Aptekar, L., Stoecklin, D. (2014). Street Children and Homeless Youth: a cross-cultural perspective. Dordrecht: Springer Editions (240 pages).


David Walker | Overseas Development Institute, UK

David WalkerDavid Walker is a Social Development specialist, with particular experience in gender and child poverty/vulnerability analysis methodologies (inc. child protection), policy processes (analysis, drivers of change, political economy) and corresponding qualitative/participatory research methods. Additional research interest in linking evidence to policy. Over 8 years’ experience with NGOs and research institutions, with fieldwork in South Africa, Uganda and Thailand and geographic specialties on Sub-Saharan and Southern Africa.

Selected publications:

Related links:

Overseas Development Institute


Dr. Andy West

For over 30 years Dr. West has worked on children’s and young people’s rights, particularly in Asia and the UK, but also in the Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific. Dr. West is mainly concerned with excluded and marginalised children and young people, especially protection and participation. Over the years, Dr. West has been involved in direct work, research (and research by children), programme development/management, training, teaching, as well as co-founding several local organisations. His work on street-connected issues includes `street children’, migration, law, care systems, particularly in the UK, China (including Tibet and Xinjiang), Mongolia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.

Dr. West’s most recent work was on children’s rights and participation in Vietnam and Bangladesh. He has produced various publications from countries of work, and also regionally, such as Children on the Move: children’s migration in South-East Asia, At the Margins: Street Children in Asia – Pacific Region, and Having Their Say: Young People and Participation – European Experiences.