Prof. Cath Larkins

Prof. Cath Larkins

Director, The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation

School of Social Work, Care and Community

ER129, Eden Building

+44 (0) 1772 89 3407

Cath seeks to develop new understandings of children’s aspirations and experiences. She does this by working with marginalised children and with the adults who support them. She supports children in their goals for positive change by: Influencing practice, policy and academic audiences, producing research outputs in a variety of accessible formats, encouraging policy makers and practitioners to adopt participatory and rights based approaches and developing theories of children's citizenship.

Cath is the Director of the Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation.

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Full Profile

For over 22 years Cath has pioneered participatory research with children and young people, working for a variety of NGOs, governments and universities and publishing in 2002, an early practice guide to child participation which is still in use.

Cath directs The Centre for Children’s and Young People’s Participation, supervising and mentoring a team of 18 colleagues to pursue a strategic vision to promote children’s rights and to develop understanding of participation and children’s citizenship. In collaboration with disadvantaged children, young people and their allies (particularly with Roma, disabled children, children in- and leaving-care, asylum seekers, young people in contact with youth justice systems and children experiencing domestic violence), we provide research, community engagement, student opportunities, knowledge exchange and impact activities.

Cath specialises in creative methods that enable disadvantaged children and young people to generate and share knowledge and to bring about positive changes in their lives, communities, services and the policy environments that affect them. She uses mixed-method and co-created evaluation approaches to explore the impact of children’s participation on public decision-making and service delivery.

Using social theory to reflect on these empirical studies, Cath also develops world leading conceptual insights in the field of childhood studies. She is an internationally recognised scholar in theories and practices of children’s citizenship, agency and participation. She has achieved impact on international policy and practice, including establishing strategies for marginalised children and young people’s engagement in public decision making. She has delivered training and consultancy on participatory research with children across Europe and in Japan and Canada, including leading a co-produced participatory study with 550 Roma young people across Europe. Cath leads national and international research projects producing peer reviewed articles, securing research income and changing policy and practice at local, national and European levels.

Teaching Activities 

Cath has limited teaching responsibilities related to theories of childhood, participation and social pedagogy. She takes a leading role on the following courses:
MA in Contemporary Practice with Children and Young People

PG Certificate: Safeguarding Children


2015-2018 Stories to Connect, AHRC

2015-2017 PEER: Participation and Empowerment for Experiences for Roma (GRT) youth, EU

2014-2015 Evaluation of a Leaving Care Service, Cabinet Office

2013-2015 Evaluation of the Reporters’ Academy Aiming Higher Project, Paul Hamlyn Foundation

2012-2013 The Impact of Poverty on the Rights of Disabled Children, Office of the Children’s Commissioner

2012-2014 Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships research in the UK, Cyprus, Italy, Norway and Bulgaria, EU Daphne

2012-2014 RESPONDS- improving primary health care response to domestic violence and child safeguarding, NIHR

2013-2014 Mapping domestic violence service provision in Wales, Welsh Government

2012-2013 What helps reduce Youth Offending, A North West Local Authority

2011-2012 National Evaluation of Social Work Practices, DfE


Recently published

- Larkins, C. and Wainwright, J. (2020) ‘If rich people gave more money to poor people’: Children’s perspectives on reducing offending and implications for social citizenship. Child and Youth Services Review 10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104702 Online

- Satchwell, C., Larkins, C., Carter, B. and Davidge, G. (2020) Making meaning through fictional writing with disadvantaged young people: stories as findings in collaborative research data analysis. Qualitative Research Online 21.2.20

- Larkins C. (2019) Excursions as Corporate Agents: A critical realist account of children’s agency. Childhood 26(4) 414–429  Free to Download.

- Wainwright J. and Larkins C. (2019) Race, ethnicity, young people and offending: the elephant in the room. Social Identities.  Online

-Dan, David, Evie, Ollie, Thomas, D and Larkins, C. (2019) Next steps in children and young people’s research, participation and protection from the perspective of young researchers. Journal of Children's Services, 14(3) 186-193

- Warrington, C. and Larkins, C. (2019) Children at the centre of safety: challenging the false juxtaposition of protection and participation. Journal of Children's Services, 14(3). 133-142.

More publications


European Sociological Association RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

Eurochild Reference Group on Participation methods for the Inclusion of All Children

CUIDAR (Cultures of Disaster Resilience Among Children and Young People): Lancaster University led EU funded Participatory Research Consortium