Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Cardinal Nichols has been Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales since 2009.  His Eminence was created a Cardinal by Pope Francis in 2014, and installed in 2015 as first Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham.  As a patron for several Catholic charities including the Cardinal Hume Centre, The Passage, and the national body of Caritas Social Action Network, Cardinal Nichols is devoted to working for those on the margins of society.


Rt Rev Terence Drainey – Chair of Trustees


Bishop Drainey was a “fidei donum” priest in the Archdiocese of Kisumu in western Kenya, worked as a Parish Priest in Salford Diocese and served as Spiritual Director at the Royal English College in Spain. Appointed Seventh Bishop of Middlesbrough on 17 November 2007, Bishop Drainey was installed on 25 January 2008.

Rt Rev Stephen Wright

Bishop Stephen James Lawrence Wright was born in Stafford, in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, on 9th October 1970.

After obtaining a LLB (Hons) Degree in Law from the University of Leicester (1992) he qualified as a Barrister, called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn on the 14th October 1993. He completed his studies for preparation for the priesthood, first at Saint Mary’s College, Oscott, Birmingham (1993-1995), and then at the Venerable English College in Rome (1995-2000), where he was awarded a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology, STL, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 2000.

Since his Episcopal Ordination, Bishop Stephen has been the Area Bishop for the northern part of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, serving the parishes, schools and communities in Staffordshire and the Black Country. By a gracious invitation he is an Ecumenical Canon at Lichfield Cathedral. He is Chair of Trustees of the Diocesan Kenelm Youth Trust. He was appointed a Bishop Trustee of CAFOD in 2021 and became Chair of Trustees of CAFOD in April 2023. He is also a Trustee for the Churches Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS) in addition to Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN). He is a member of the Bishops’ Advisory Panel supporting Bishop Paul Mason as Lead Safeguarding Bishop in the work of the Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA). He is a member of the Social Justice Department of the Bishops Conference with a focus on human rights and criminal/civil law matters.

For Bishop Stephen’s full biography, please visit:

Rt Rev Tom Williams


The Right Reverend Tom Williams is an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Born in Liverpool in February 1948, Bishop Williams was ordained to the priesthood in May 1972, and ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Liverpool on 27 May 2003. He is Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Healthcare Reference Group and is a member of the Department for Social Justice.

Maria Blazquez

Maria is a financial services lawyer and has held senior roles at Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Barclays and various other major financial institutions. She has experience dealing with illegal immigration while being involved with the Jesuit Refugee Service. During that time she regularly visited detainees in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook centres. Maria is also involved in One of Us, an infancy UK cultural platform think tank to promote the value of human life. Maria is a native Spanish speaker.

Richard Harries

Richard is Associate Director of the Institute for Community Studies. He was previously a senior civil servant and deputy director of the independent think tank Reform. He has extensive experience of research and policymaking in the public sector and third sector and has advised governments in Australia, Japan, Europe, Africa and the Middle East about various aspects of public service reform. He has published on a wide range of topics, including crime and criminal justice, deregulation, fiscal sustainability, philanthropy, social investment and impact evaluation. Richard is a trustee of the Forces in Mind Trust, and sits on the Advisory Councils of Volunteering Matters, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Our Common Good. He is also a Senior Associate of the Power to Change Trust and a Visiting Senior Fellow at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.

Elizabeth Palmer

Elizabeth is Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society (England and Wales).

Ben Ryan


Ben is the Home Affairs Adviser for the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division, where he leads on policy and projects in a range of fields including migration and criminal justice. Previously he was Head of Research at the Christian think tank Theos. He is the author of a number of books and reports on religion and politics, chaplaincy, the Catholic charity sector, mental health and ecumenism.

Nicola Thomas

Nicola is currently the Head of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation for the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, working with clergy and parishes on social and environmental justice projects in south London and east Surrey. She was previously a Senior Civil Servant in the Home Office, most recently leading on integration for refugees and safeguarding of vulnerable asylum seekers. She is particularly proud of having led the team which created the Community Sponsorship Scheme for resettled refugees. Nicola has worked in a variety of interesting and challenging roles, including as Private Secretary to two Home Secretaries, and specialises in policy and strategy for operational delivery. In her spare time, she enjoys choral singing, especially in the English Cathedral tradition. She is active in her local Catholic parish.

Johan Bergström-Allen

Johan is a professed lay member of the Carmelite Order and worked for 18 years as the Order’s Communications and Outreach Manager in Britain. He has written and edited a number of books on spirituality, and leads retreats and quiet days in Britain and abroad. He has a Doctorate in Medieval Literature, a Diploma in Pastoral Ministry and Christian Leadership, and teaches literature, history, and theology in a number of institutions. Johan is a Research Associate at the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, a Fellow of the Centre for Marian Studies, a Fellow of the Institutum Carmelitanum, Rome, and Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. For over thirty years Johan has accompanied pilgrims to Lourdes, especially sick and disabled people, and he serves on the international formation team for volunteers in the sanctuary. Johan lives in York where he serves on the pastoral councils of Our Lady’s Parish and the Diocese of Middlesbrough’s LGBT+ Ministry. A keen ecumenist, Johan has served several terms as Chair of Churches Together in York, and as Chair of the Ebor Lectures in Theology and Public Life. His interest in Catholic Social Teaching has prompted Johan to become involved in hospital chaplaincy, mental health promotion, a parish foodbank and warm welcome centre, and projects in collaboration with CAFOD and the Archbishop Romero Trust. He is training to become a counsellor in person-centred therapy.

Daphne Amevenu

Daphne is a cradle Catholic currently working as a freelance consultant supporting development of social and health care innovations and their scaling to regional and national levels. She also supports organisations on their journey to become more sustainable and more equitable, diverse and inclusive organisations. She previously worked as a sustainability and climate change consultant and in grantmaking in the healthcare sector. Alongside her work, Daphne is Chair of the IRISi board, a national organisation enabling delivery of interventions from a health care lens that support women experiencing domestic violence and abuse. She is passionate about ensuring all organisations and work she’s involved in live out values of equity, diversity and inclusion. This also applies to her faith and Daphne has led sessions with young Catholics to explore the role of the church in tackling racism.

Julia Corcoran

Julia currently works for Operation Noah as the Bright Now Campaign Manager. She previously worked for CAFOD in the Education team working on the Step into the Gap programme. Julia lives in a Jesuit Young Adult Community with other young adults as part of a formation programme.

Jonathan Heard

Jon is currently Head of Major Gifts at the Catholic maritime charity, Stella Maris. He has over fifteen years’ professional experience in the not-for-profit sector, helping NGOs and charities build relationships with funders, businesses and philanthropists. Jon’s previous roles include working for a number of agencies of the Catholic Church in the UK and West Africa and working for the Royal Air Force’s charities helping develop services and facilities for the families of RAF personnel. He recently completed a Master’s in Voluntary Sector Management at Bayes Business School, City University.


Raymond Friel OBE, Chief Executive

Raymond has spent most of his professional life in Catholic secondary education in the state sector, including roles as Headteacher (2002-2016), General Secretary of the Catholic Independent Schools Conference (2016-2018), and CEO of two multi academy trusts, in Plymouth and Westminster Dioceses (2018-2021). He has written a number of books on education and Catholic life, including The Revolution of Tenderness: How to be a Catholic in Today’s Church (2016), and At Your Side (2020), a book of original prayers with David Wells (both available from Redemptorist Publications). His latest book, The Formation of the Heart: Being a Socially Engaged Catholic in a post-Covid Society, is due to be published in January 2022. He lives in Somerset with his wife, Janet, who is an artist and maker. They have three sons, some of whom have left home. Raymond was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours 2022, for services to education.

Isabella George, Office Manager

Isabella has previously worked as an administrative assistant for Faraday Links and Services, and for the accounts department of Lewisham Borough Council. She holds a degree in Business Management from Greenwich University. Isabella is an active member of her local church community and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Daisy Vanderputt, Senior Officer for Policy and Public Affairs

Daisy comes to this role with experience of working in a number of different charities in advocacy and communication roles. Most recently she worked at the Legatum Institute as a policy and advocacy officer, focusing on racial disparities in the UK, as well as assisting on UK poverty work. Daisy previously spent time as a fellow with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York and is also a trustee of the Catholic Student Network.

Aliya Zahin, Caritas Migration Officer

Aliya has a varied experience in migration work and has worked with numerous charities involved in both refugee support and advocacy for survivors of trafficking. She has extensive experience in refugee resettlement, having worked in resettlement operations in Ethiopia, Libya and Peru.

Bernadette Durcan, Research and Programmes Officer

Bernadette comes to this role with an academic background in the sociology of Catholicism, having undertaken a range of projects within this field. She has co-authored Why Catholics Leave, What They Miss, and How They Might Return (Paulist Press, 2019), and is interested in the role of the Church in contemporary society particularly at the grassroots level. Bernadette has worked and volunteered in various capacities in the Archdioceses of Westminster and Liverpool and the Diocese of Nottingham.