Dr Naomi Thompson

Staff details

Dr Naomi Thompson


Reader in Youth and Community Work and Head of Department


Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies


Naomi.Thompson (@gold.ac.uk)

Naomi is a sociologist of youth and inclusion with a particular interest in faith and other intersecting identities

My research focuses on issues of inclusion and exclusion for young people and communities. I am interested in people's intersectional identities and experiences - and their relationships with religious and other institutions. I teach primarily in the areas of social science, community development and youth work.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Religious Studies 2013
  • MA Education 2008
  • BA Youth and Community Work 2004

Research interests

I approach research primarily from a sociological perspective, interested particularly in the everyday narratives of young people and communities. 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. It was the first substantial study of Sunday school history to explore internal reasons for young people's declining engagement with churches and their experiences of rejection and exclusion.

My current research includes a study of people's religious and spiritual choices in everyday funerals - as well as how these choices vary by age. I am also conducting a study of the experiences of young black and racially minoritised people on social media. I recently led a large Erasmus+ project with international partners from Turkey, Poland, France and Cyprus that developed training and resources for youth workers relating to child sexual exploitation. I also recently completed a three-year study of refugee and migrant women's experiences of integration.

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.

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; Spacey, Meghan; Baker, Christopher and Cheal, Steve. 2024. It seemed like the “rite” thing to do – choices about religious content in everyday celebrant-led funerals in the UK. In: Terhi Utriainen; Dorothea Lüddeckens and Brenda Mathijssen, eds. Handbook on Contemporary Death Rituals in Europe. Leiden: Brill.

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 Spacey, Meghan. 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


Woodger, David; Thompson, Naomi and Law, Natalie. 2024. Race and Social Media research project - interim findings report. Project Report. Meta.

Spacey, Meghan; Woodger, David and Thompson, Naomi. 2023. Young Brent Foundation - Valuing Life Programme: Year Three Evaluation, 2022/23. Project Report. Young Brent Foundation, London.

Woodger, David and Thompson, Naomi. 2022. Barriers and supports in access to higher education for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma students. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London.