Helen Abnett

Helen Abnett

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Helen is an ESRC-funded Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the School of Social Policy.


Helen’s research primarily focuses on the roles, representational practices, funding, and regulation of charities in England and Wales. She also has a particular interest in analysing academic research on charities, and the gaps and links between research in the Social Policy and Development Studies disciplines.

Helen completed her PhD at the University of Kent in 2022, exploring the roles and resourcing of international development charities, work that she is now taking forward within her postdoctoral fellowship. She has also worked on the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Border Crossings: Charity and Volunteerism in Britain’s mixed economy of healthcare since 1948’.

Prior to completing her PhD, Helen spent 15 years working within the voluntary sector, in fundraising and programme development roles.


Research interests

  • The roles, representational practices, and funding of charities in England and Wales.
  • Charity regulation in England and Wales.
  • Inter-disciplinary gaps and links between voluntary sector studies and development studies. 

Current projects

ESRC-funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship ‘Developing Charity: Building understanding between the Social Policy and International Development sectors’


 Abnett, H., Bowles, J. and Mohan, J. (forthcoming) ‘Substituting and supplementing public provision: the roles of charity in the English and Welsh NHS’ Policy & Politics

Abnett, H. and de Vries, R. (2022) ‘How Transparent are Charitable Foundations? A Large-Scale Comparison of Transparency Levels in Grant-making Trusts and Foundations in England and Wales’ Voluntary Sector Review

Abnett, H., Bowles, J. and Clifford, D. (2022) ‘The challenges of regulatory data: A case study of British charity reserves reporting’ Voluntary Sector Review