Liz Carnelley - Near Neighbours Programme Director

Liz is the Programme Director of Near Neighbours. She works from home in Retford, Nottinghamshire, is mum to two boys, and is often travelling the country visiting Near Neighbours activities. She grew up in South Yorkshire and likes jazz, films and walking her dog Ben.






Wahida Shaffi - Catalyst Programme Director

Wahida Shaffi is the Director of the Near Neighbours Catalyst Programme. She was previously the West Yorkshire Coordinator for the Near Neighbours Programme where she oversaw the Catalyst programmes in the North of England and the Midlands. She held the position of National Women's Programme Lead with the Christian Muslim Forum where she has pioneered their national women's programme.

She has an MA in International Politics & Security Studies from the University of Bradford. She has gone on to facilitate and deliver training, complete research, and produce films on a wide range of issues. She is the author of 'Our Lives Our Stories: Inspiring Muslim Women's Voices'. She lives with her husband in Bradford and enjoys travelling.


Becky Brookman - Deputy Director of Catalyst

Becky is the Deputy Director of Catalyst. She has three years’ experience of setting up the Near Neighbours programme across 11 boroughs in West London.

Prior to that she spent three years working for the oldest UK-based Jewish youth organisation, JLGB, encouraging young people’s involvement in social action and their local communities. She also worked as a trainer, developing the capacity of charities, schools and faith groups to embrace young volunteers.  Becky has recently completed an MA in Abrahamic Religions at Heythrop College, University of London and lives on a boat with her rescue dog, Harvey.

Polly Taylor - Just Finance Foundation Project Coordinator

Polly joined CUF in February 2016 after a two year post in the Church of England supporting the work of the Archbishop’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings. She is involved at her local church with her husband and two children, is studying for a qualification in project management and enjoys crochet and yoga- but not at the same time!

Ali Khimji - Grants Coordinator

Ali joined CUF and Near Neighbours as the Grants Coordinator for Near Neighbours and Together Grants in May 2016. He previously worked for a Muslim lifestyle magazine and a social enterprise that advised charities on their fundraising and programme development. He enjoys working with the many different and varied organisations that Near Neighbours supports and the Hub Coordinators across the country.

In his spare time, Ali volunteers with Al-Mizan Charitable Trust, which supports people living in poverty across the UK, plays football, and reads books. He studied Financial Economics at the University of Leicester.


Julia Hill - Information Hub Coordinator

Julia is supporting the development of a resources hub on the Just Finance website so that churches and community workers can easily access useful resources to support their work.  Julia has worked for CUF since 2012 and is also responsible for the Working with Volunteers resources, having previously worked as a volunteer manager in Bristol. When not travelling around the country to work with colleagues, she likes cooking, walking, cycling and sleeping. Her three nearly adult children keep her realistic – mostly.






Maya Shapiro - Near Neighbours Communications and PR Officer

Maya is the Communications and PR Officer at Near Neighbours and brings with her experience in marketing, communications and volunteer management in the non-profit sector.

If you follow Near Neighbours on social media or read the blog or newsletter, you are probably familiar with her work. You can often find her visiting the different Near Neighbours hubs across the country, where she gets to meet the local communities and write about their stories. In her spare time, Maya enjoys swing dancing, travelling and being a live-in tourist in London.

Florence Akuffo - Catalyst Programme Administrator

Florence is the Administrator for the Near Neighbours Catalyst programme. She has had a career as an Administrator spanning two decades in the corporate and private world. Florence has also volunteered as an advisor with Ealing Equality Council and also helps as a leader at Kensington Temple Children’s Ministry. She runs a monthly CV and Job Search workshop at Northolt Library through her organisation called Dream Possibilities - her way of giving back to her community. Florence has two teenagers who keep her on her toes and in her spare time she likes to do a bit of writing including poetry.