IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Promoting sustainable livelihoods: unpacking empowerment with young migrants in Ghana

03 October 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Young man wearing a traditional Ghanaian shirt poses for a photo. Credit: AS Photo Family / Adobe Stock

Dr Grace Spencer and Dr Jill Thompson present their ongoing research in youth mobilities, which explores how young (15-25 years old) Ghanaian migrants construct positive narratives of their experiences.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







TCRU seminar team


TCRU Library (Room 14)
Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU)
27-28 Woburn Square

Increases in global migration in recent times has prompted concerns about the socio-economic, health and environmental implications of mobility, and migration is often framed as a contemporary social challenge – despite evidence of the opportunities it affords individuals, communities and countries.

Yet the experiences of young people who migrate independently of adults has been relatively underexplored. Young migrants often display their independence and autonomy as they self-navigate new contexts and experiences – blurring dominant constructions of childhood/adulthood.

In this seminar, Dr Grace Spencer and Dr Jill Thompson share insights from a qualitative study focusing on the lives and livelihoods of young migrants aged 15-24 years (internal and international) in Ghana and the possibilities for understanding empowerment.

Their findings highlight the ways young migrants construct migration as an opportunity for a better life – irrespective of the significant socio-economic challenges they face. Navigating precarious work and living situations often resulted in the ongoing mobilities of young people as they actively sought opportunities to ‘move out of’ poverty. Investigating ongoing youth mobilities prompts new ethical and methodological challenges – prompting calls to rethink how best to conduct research with young people who are frequently on the move.

This event will be particularly useful for researchers, particularly those in the field of health, migration, youth transitions, and youth mobilities.

Related links


Credit: AS Photo Family / Adobe Stock.

About the Speakers

Dr Grace Spencer

Associate Professor Young People, Health and Social Equity at Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Grace Spencer's research focuses on young people's health and their health-related practices with reference to concepts of risk, power and empowerment theory.  She has a particular interest in social change, youth transitions, migration, and health and social equity. Grace is widely recognised for her expertise in qualitative research methods and ethics with children and young people and she has published extensively on the ethical aspects of research with young people.  Her current programme of research focuses on the health and migration experiences of young migrants in Ghana.

More about Dr Grace Spencer

Dr Jill Thompson

Senior Lecturer at Health Sciences School, University of Sheffield

Dr Jill Thompson is a social scientist and a qualitative researcher with particular expertise in ethnography and participatory methods. Her work is increasingly focussed on the health of vulnerable children and young people in national and international contexts.  Jill’s research focus is a gradual refinement of her established track record in Patient and Public Involvement and participatory approaches to health.  What unites Jill’s work is a commitment to the active involvement of children’s perspectives and experiences in influencing contexts of relevance to their health and wellbeing. Presently, this has two main foci; migrant children’s health and the use of digital technology for children’s health.

More about Dr Jill Thompson