Jennie Riley

Jennie Riley

Jennie Riley tells us about her role as Research Fellow, her background in religion and theology and how she came to be crocheting tiny female icons


Tell us about your role at HSRU

I’m a Research Fellow, and I’m currently working on the Care in Funerals project, exploring people’s experiences of disruption and adaptation to funerals and other death rites during the pandemic in the UK. We’re about to start writing up and working on knowledge exchange, which is very exciting – but I’ve also been heavily involved in organising, conducting and analysing the qualitative interviews at the heart of the study.  

Tell us a bit about your background and what you do now

My background is in Theology and Religion, particularly the sociology/anthropology of religion in contemporary Britain. My PhD explored the relationship between evangelical Christianity and healthcare work – which is where the interest in healthcare research was born, as well as where I honed my skills in qualitative research design and analysis.  

How do you usually start your day?

With two of my favourite things – coffee and list-making! I carry a notebook with me everywhere, filling it with to-do lists, shopping lists, spider-diagrams and doodles. It helps me to focus and feel I’ve got things under control if I start every day by using it to jot down meetings and top priorities for the morning and afternoon (and reminders about what needs doing round the house – the glamour of working from home!)  

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I get to spend every day reading, writing and asking people questions about things I think are fascinating, alongside other people who also think they’re fascinating.  

How do you relax outside of work?

I taught myself to crochet during the first lockdown, and I’m currently working through a book of patterns for tiny female icons! My latest was a miniature Jane Goodall, complete with tiny chimp – I reckon Greta Thunberg is next.  

What was the last book you read?

I recently finished ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara – it’s quite something! I’d usually stick to cosy crime if I wanted something a bit more restful.  

Jennie's answers were provided in March 2022