Dr. Naomi Thompson

Staff details

Position Lecturer in Youth and Community Work and Head of Department
Email Naomi.Thompson (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7846
Dr. Naomi Thompson

I am a sociologist of youth, faith and inclusion with particular research interests in faith-based youth work and the inclusiveness of such provision.

I have wider research interests in young people, youth work, communities and issues of inclusion and exclusion. 

Whilst I approach research primarily from a sociological perspective, interested particularly in the everyday narratives of young people and communities, I am very much inter-disciplinary in my approach – having undertaken my undergraduate degree in youth and community work in the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) at the University of Durham, and my MA in Education and PhD in Religious Studies, both with The Open University.

My PhD was funded under the AHRC/ESRC Religion & Society programme and explored the peak and decline of the Sunday School Movement in the twentieth century, as well as young people’s engagement with churches in the present day. 

My recent research has included a study of young female Muslim experiences at university, young people’s engagement with organised crime, Christian street-based youth work, and faith-based youth work’s engagement with civil society.

I am currently working on research projects exploring community engagement with marginalised migrant Muslim women; hate and discrimination experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; and whether professionally qualifying youth work training programmes equip practitioners to work with diverse religious communities.

I also undertake evaluation for youth and community projects, and am currently doing so for Lewisham Youth Offending Service, as well as recently completing a community needs analysis for Youth First, the largest provider of youth services in Lewisham. 

As a researcher, I am most interested in co-produced and applied research that ensures the voices of young people and communities are heard, particularly where these voices have been marginalised and/or excluded.

I undertake research that provides clear implications for communities and services and regularly engage in public fora to disseminate my research findings. I edit for the open access journal, Youth & Policy (www.youthandpolicy.org).


Publications and research outputs


Thompson, Naomi; Nasimi, Rabia; Rova, Marina and Turner, Andy. 2022. Community Work with Migrant and Refugee Women: 'Insiders' and 'outsiders' in research and practice. Bingley: Emerald. ISBN 9781801174794

Thompson, Naomi. 2017. Young People and Church since 1900: Engagement and Exclusion. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781472489784

Edited Book

Stanton, Naomi, ed. 2015. Youth Work and Faith: debates, delights and dilemmas. Lyme Regis: Russell House.

Book Section

Thompson, Naomi. 2023. Using a narrative method to research young people’s religious engagement, past and present. In: L Woodhead; L Cadman and N Graham, eds. Messy Methods: Researching Religion in Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rova, Marina and Thompson, Naomi. 2022. Trauma-Informed Practice with Migrant and Refugee Women. In: Naomi Thompson; Rabia Nasimi; Marina Rova and Andy Turner, eds. Community Work with Migrant and Refugee Women: 'Insiders' and 'Outsiders' in Research and Practice. Bingley: Emerald. ISBN 9781801174794

Thompson, Naomi and Joseph, Ian. 2020. Social Media and Youth Justice – challenges and possibilities for practice. In: Claudia Megele and Peter Buzzi, eds. Social Media and Social Work: Implications and Opportunities for Practice. Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 133-154. ISBN 9781447327394

Woodger, David; Thompson, Naomi and Anastasio, Jean. 2019. “Learning does not reside in a place called comfortable”: Exploring identity and social justice through experiential group work. In: Mike Seal, ed. Teaching Youth Work in Higher Education: Tensions, Connections, Continuities and Contradictions. Tartu, Estonia: University of Tartu/Newman University/Humak University of Applied Sciences/Estonian Association of Youth Workers, pp. 152-159. ISBN 9789985411612

Thompson, Naomi. 2019. Where is faith-based youth work heading? In: Graham Bright and Carole Pugh, eds. Youth Work: Global Futures. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. ISBN 9789004396555

Connaughton, Paula; de St Croix, Tania; Grace, Pauline and Thompson, Naomi. 2019. In Defence of Youth Work Storytelling as Methodology and Curriculum in HEI teaching. In: Mike Seal, ed. Teaching Youth Work in Universities: Tensions, Connections, Continuities and Contradictions. Tartu, Estonia: University of Tartu/Newman University/Humak University of Applied Sciences/Estonian Association of Youth Workers, pp. 247-255. ISBN 9789985411612

Bright, Graham; Thompson, Naomi; Hart, Peter and Hayden, Bethany. 2018. Faith-based Youth Work: Education, Engagement and Ethics. In: Pam Alldred; Fin Cullen; Kathy Edwards and Dana Fusco, eds. The SAGE Handbook of Youth Work Practice. London: SAGE, pp. 197-212. ISBN 9781473939523

Thompson, Naomi. 2017. Indoctrination. In: Fathali M. Moghaddam, ed. Sage Encyclopedia of Political Behavior. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN 9781483391168


Spacey, Meghan and Thompson, Naomi. 2023. “I would want to see young people working in here, that’s what I want to see…” How peer support opportunities in youth offending services can support a Child First, trauma-informed, and reparative model of practice for Youth Justice. Safer Communities, 22(3), pp. 200-216. ISSN 1757-8043

Thompson, Naomi and Shuker, Lucie. 2023. The ‘secular culture’ of youth work training: Are English universities equipping youth workers to work with diverse religious communities? Ethics and Social Welfare, 17(4), pp. 366-386. ISSN 1749-6535

Spacey, Meghan and Thompson, Naomi. 2022. Beyond individual trauma: towards a multi-faceted trauma-informed restorative approach to youth justice that connects individual trauma with family reparation and recognition of bias and discrimination. British Journal of Community Justice, 18(1), pp. 18-35. ISSN 1475-0279

Thompson, Naomi and Nasimi, Rabia. 2022. “This place means freedom to me”: needs-based engagement with marginalized migrant Muslim women in London. Community Development Journal, 57(2), pp. 339-359. ISSN 0010-3802

Thompson, Naomi; Bright, Graham and Hart, Peter. 2021. From neoliberalism to neopopulism: how grassroots faith communities are resisting division and crossing borders. Radical Community Work, 4(2), ISSN 2399-178X

Thompson, Naomi and Woodger, David. 2020. “I hope the river floods”: online hate speech towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. British Journal of Community Justice, 16(1), pp. 41-63. ISSN 1475-0279

Thompson, Naomi and Woodger, David. 2020. Young people need youth clubs. A needs analysis in a London borough. Youth and Policy, ISSN 2057-4266

Thompson, Naomi. 2019. ‘It’s a No-Win Scenario, either the Police or the Gang Will Get You’: Young People and Organised Crime – Vulnerable or Criminal? Youth Justice, 19(2), pp. 102-119. ISSN 1473-2254

Thompson, Naomi and Pihlaja, Stephen. 2018. Temporary liberties and uncertain futures: young female Muslim perceptions of life in England. Journal of Youth Studies, 21(10), pp. 1326-1343. ISSN 1367-6261

Pihlaja, Stephen and Thompson, Naomi. 2017. “I love the Queen”: Positioning in young British Muslim discourse. Discourse, Context and Media, 20, pp. 52-58. ISSN 2211-6958

Thompson, Naomi and Ballantyne, James. 2017. ‘Being Church’: The Social and Spiritual Purposes and Impacts of Christian Detached Youth Work. Journal of Youth and Theology, 16(2), pp. 89-116. ISSN 1741-0819

Pihlaja, Stephen and Thompson, Naomi. 2017. Young Muslims and Exclusion - experiences of 'othering'. Youth and Policy, ISSN 0262-9798

Thompson, Naomi and Slovenko, Karolina. 2015. Social Pedagogy, Informal Education and Ethical Youth Work Practice. Ethics and Social Welfare, 10(1), pp. 19-34. ISSN 1749-6535

Davies, Bernard; Taylor, Tony and Thompson, Naomi. 2015. Informal Education, Youth Work and Youth Development: Responding to the Brathay Trust Case Study. Youth and Policy, 115, ISSN 0262-9798

Stanton, Naomi. 2015. Challenging myths about young people and organised crime through collaborative research. Yresearch - Journal of Social Research and Evaluation, 1, pp. 34-46.

Stanton, Naomi. 2014. A culture of blame – Sunday School teachers, youth workers and the decline of young people in churches. Crucible,

Stanton, Naomi. 2012. Christian youth work: teaching faith, filling churches or response to social need? Journal of Beliefs and Values, 33(3), pp. 385-403. ISSN 1361-7672


Thompson, Naomi and Woodger, David. 2018. “I hope the river floods” Everyday hatred against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Other. GATE Herdfordshire.

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