Writer - Researcher - Speaker
To be honest – I find these descriptions a bit awkward!
It’s not that I don’t like talking about myself – I probably do that far too much….
But… how can anyone adequately summarise who they have become over the course of their life, or summarise in any meaningful way the multitude of influences in just a handful of paragraphs?
So – I will start by describing who I am now – and reference the influences that I believe are the most significant.
Me - Currently
I am a freelance writer, researcher (a Visiting Research Fellow at City University),
consultant and speaker on the topics and themes outlined on this website.
These concern the largely misunderstood and underestimated influence of faith in International Development, International Politics and social change more generally.
I am also on the Advisory Council of Cinnamon Network and Vice-Chair of Churches Together, Folkestone, which is a network of over 25 local churches who come together for worship, prayer and practical service to our town, Folkestone. Which by the way is an amazing place to visit - not least because it has the UK's largest urban contemporary art exhibition and the Harbour Arm - a great place to 'promenade' out to sea!
For many years, I worked in fundraising and communications for some amazing Christian organisations: one of the most innovative is Mission Aviation Fellowship which uses light aircraft to reach isolated people in the Global South with both practical and spiritual care.
All of these experiences convinced me of the potential for faith organisations to contribute in a significant way to social change and international development.
But I wasn’t sure this potential was being fully realised. So, I first took a year out to study for a Masters in Political Communication and Society at City University, and then a couple of years later, went ‘all-in’ to undertake a doctorate in International Politics, again at City.
But let’s go back a few years to trace the journey I have been on to get there.
I was born in the East End of London to a traditional working-class family (telephonist mum, carpenter dad), who believed that education would enable me and my older brother to have greater opportunities than they had.
For this, and for the teachers I had in my school years, I am so incredibly grateful.
In my teens, I became involved in a local church which, in hindsight, I can see changed the trajectory of my life.
Not only did I encounter the practice of authentic Christian faith, but I was also deeply affected by the multicultural nature of the church.
I can now see that this developed into an internationalist perspective of life - and to this day I am baffled that others don’t see things the same way.
I left school after GCSE ‘A’ levels and worked first at the Home Office in fingerprint research, then at a brewery and soft drinks company in their personnel departments, then in various charities (both faith-based and not) in a variety of disciplines including HR, fundraising and communications.
The people I had the privilege of working with during those years had a profound impact on me: my faith and worldview were often challenged and shaped in many ways and caused me to ‘go deep’...
Talking of 'going deep': my time at City University as a postgraduate student was a deeply enriching experience: not only did I have time to ponder and rethink some of my age-old assumptions (definitely a good thing!) but I also learned to think more critically about - well eveything! I am indebted to my doctoral supervisors for their patience and support as I stumbled along that particular path.
I have benefitted enormously by the wide variety of people I have known and had the privilege of working with – many of whom I am delighted to say became lifelong friends.
I have been part of, and inevitably absorbed the perspectives and practices of, a variety of church styles and practices: Baptist; Independent Churches; Assemblies of God; New Frontiers and Anglican and I truly value the insights and treasures that each brings to the community of Christian faith.
But I am unable, and unwilling, to define myself in terms of a denomination – the only identifier I can hand on heart commit to is ‘Christian’.
Much of my spiritual journey has been in the company of British Evangelicals (a very different animal to American Evangelicals!) but not exclusively so, and not to an extent that I would wear that label at a cocktail party of Christians, should there ever be such a thing!
I have also benefitted immensely from Catholic perspectives and those of Quakers and so I must limit my faith label to ‘Christian’ and one that believes with a passion that faith is meant to make a difference…