Research and Policy

Heather Buckingham Cuf

Heather Buckingham

Director of Research and Policy

Heather joined CUF in October 2016, having previously been a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and, prior to that, at the University of Southampton. She is passionate about social justice and the church’s potential to contribute to positive change in the local, national and global communities of which it is a part. She has experience of academic research on faith and social engagement, the third sector, and social policy, as well as of conducting evaluations for charities and faith groups. Her PhD explored organisational change and ethos amongst charities working with homeless people. She enjoys good films, music, and pretty much any excuse to be outdoors, especially walking and cycling.

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Hannah Rich


Hannah is a Researcher working on the GR:ACE project, which is delivered in partnership between Church Urban Fund and Theos. Based at Theos, she is exploring the relationship between social action, discipleship and church growth, and is always keen to hear stories of what churches are getting up to in their communities. Before that, she worked as a research assistant and completed a MSc in Inequalities and Social Science at LSE. Hannah has also worked as a support worker for young adults with learning disabilities and managed a social enterprise sweet shop. She studied French and Spanish at university and spent a year abroad working with local churches in Paris and Madrid. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys going running, reading crime novels and taking her fantasy football team far too seriously.

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Jessamin Birdsall

Research and Evaluation Manager

Jessamin joined CUF in March 2018, having recently moved back to London from the US. Jessamin is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University, specialising in inequality, race and ethnicity, and religion. She has conducted quantitative and qualitative research on social capital formation, interfaith relations, immigrant identity, and social and political attitudes of evangelical Christians. Prior to her studies at Princeton, Jessamin spent several years working in international development programme design and institutional fundraising, based in Delhi and London. She is an active member of her church in East London and has great love for travel, music, low-maintenance houseplants, and strong coffee.

Miriam Brittenden

Miriam Brittenden

Research and Policy Officer

Miriam has just started as a Research & Policy Officer with CUF, having finished a year-long leadership program with the Centre for Theology and Community exploring Christian engagement in politics, after graduating with a degree in History from Durham University. She was previously the Parliamentary Assistant for the Bishop of Durham, resourcing his role as a peer in the House of Lords, focusing on the policy areas of UK poverty, welfare and refugees & asylum. Miriam is passionate about the intersection of faith, politics and social justice and excited to develop the policy and influencing side of CUF’s work. In her spare time she loves finding new coffee shops to visit, listening to podcasts, and getting stuck in with her parish community in Shadwell.