Lucy Leon Researcher, Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity

Lucy is a Researcher at the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity, on a research and knowledge exchange project focussed on the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) immigration condition and social services provision for those at risk of destitution. Lucy also works on the Measuring Irregular Migration (MIrreM) project, exploring strategic approaches to regularisation for undocumented migrants in Europe. Her research interests include migration, poverty, inequality, sociology of childhood, children’s rights, participatory methodologies and co-production.

Lucy has worked in the migration and children’s sector since 2003 in various roles, including as a researcher, frontline practitioner, service manager and policy adviser. Her background is in frontline practice with migrant children, young people and families, and she set up and managed the award-winning Rise project, a specialist service for migrant boys and young men trafficked into the UK. Before joining COMPAS, she worked at UCL on the Children Caring on the Move research project with a team of peer researchers using participatory methods to explore separated children and young people’s experiences of care. She also worked as a policy and practice adviser for migrant children and families at The Children’s Society, leading the organisation’s policy and research work on immigration issues. Lucy has a BA in Anthropology and Geography and a MA in the Sociology of Childhood and Children’s Rights from UCL, where she focussed on migrant children and young people’s rights in the UK.

Selected publications

Leon, L .and Rosen, R. (2023) Unaccompanied migrant children and indebted relations: weaponising safeguarding. Child & Family Social Work

Aissatou, Prokopiou, E., Leon, L., Abdullayeva, M., Mirfat, Osman, Iyambo, P., Rosen, R., Rebin, Meetoo, V., & Zak. (2022). Stories Too Big for a Case File: Unaccompanied Young People Confront the Hostile Environment in Pandemic Times. Sociological Research Online, 27 (3), 550–558.

News & Blogs


Measuring Irregular Migration and Related Policies

Carlos Vargas-Silva, Myriam Cherti, Denis Kierans and Lucy Leon | October 2022 – September 2025

Understanding Migrant Destitution in the UK

Jacqui Broadhead, Lucy Leon and Mariña Fernández-Reino | March 2022 – February 2024