Engaging in group work with migrant children for research – An innovative data collection method in the migration context in the city of Delhi, India


  • Yukti Lamba University of Edinburgh
  • Dr. George Palattiyil University of Edinburgh




Delhi;, India, children, migration, research, group work, groupwork, participatory methods


Recent years have seen migration becoming a focus of attention for policy makers and humanitarian practitioners across the world. Migration can be both internal and external and involve one of the most vulnerable groups in our society – children. In India, data point to a considerable number of children running away from their parental homes in rural villages and migrating to urban areas in search of better opportunities. Many end up in cities like Delhi where they are exposed to a number of risks and vulnerabilities. While many of these children reach cities with dreams of making it big, the reality of living on the street is fraught with a number of challenges. Transient and often moving in groups, meeting them alone for a chat is nearly impossible and even when one manages to have an individual meeting, curiosity impels others to join in.

Against this backdrop, the lived experiences of migrant children in Delhi were studied using a group method as evidence suggests that group work as a method is being increasingly used in research with children (Darbyshire et al., 2005; Jason Davis & Lopez-Carr, 2010; Gibbs, 2007). As children feel more comfortable discussing their problems in groups than when they are alone with the researcher, this way, innovative techniques such as drawings, storytelling and alike were practiced to initiate discussions with and amongst migrant children that helped to explore their pre and post-migration experiences. Further, we examine the effectiveness of group work as a method for researching with children and its innovativeness in eliciting deeper meanings to their lives in comparison to other methods such as interviews or observation. Ethical issues of this method, particularly concerning informed consent, anonymity and confidentiality, are addressed while encouraging the children to tell their stories in an open and honest manner. At the end of the sessions, many children reported that they felt heard and listened to, that their voice mattered, and that they developed a self of self. We conclude the paper with a careful consideration of some of the issues and challenges of employing group work as a research method with migrant children in an urban setting.

Author Biography

Dr. George Palattiyil, University of Edinburgh

Dr. George Palattiyil is a Senior Lecturer and MSW Programme Director  in School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. In addition, he is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK.


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How to Cite

Lamba, Y., & Palattiyil, G. (2021). Engaging in group work with migrant children for research – An innovative data collection method in the migration context in the city of Delhi, India. Groupwork, 30(1), 31-47. https://doi.org/10.1921/gpwk.v30i1.1519



Groupwork and Research