New Auckland City Missioner with strong Catholic connections

The new Auckland City Missioner is well known in Catholic social justice circles.

Helen Robinson, who is stepping up to the post from her role as Auckland City Mission’s social services general manager, will start her new role this month.

Robinson’s experience includes working with Catholic youth development organisation The Logos Project and with Challenge 2000.

Her appointment comes ahead of the departure of the current City Missioner, Chris Farrelly, who has held the position for the last five years.

In appointing a new missioner, the City Mission’s board was clear that they needed to find a successor who would continue with the transformational work Farrelly started.

This includes the HomeGround precinct, due to open later this year. The precinct is described as a purpose-built place of healing and transformation, featuring apartments for people experiencing homelessness, community spaces and a health centre.

“Helen brings to the role a deep knowledge of the mission’s work, and an even deeper commitment to a more equitable world, cemented by a strong background in social services,” says City Mission board chair Joanna Pidgeon.

“Helen will be familiar to the Mission whanau whanui as she … has been an employee for almost a decade.”

Pidgeon says Robinson has “a deep knowledge of the Mission’s work and an even deeper commitment to a more equitable world, cemented by a strong background in social services.”

Among her projects, she oversaw the development of services to include a Housing First programme and opened two transitional housing programmes, one specifically for women.

She has also led significant improvements in all services to provide a dignified experience for people needing the mission’s support.

For the four years prior to becoming general manager of social services, Robinson held leadership roles in the Mission’s homelessness and food security teams.

Her commitment to resolving food insecurity releasing research into the topic, chairing the creation and implementation of Kore Hiakai, the national collective working towards a food-secure Aotearoa.

Outgoing Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly says the city mission has strong links with the Catholic Church, and Catholic Social teaching.

“In my time as missioner, I have been aware of the huge support we receive from a number of parishes, schools and other Church-affiliated organisations,” he says.

“A large number of our clients, volunteers, donors and staff come from a Catholic tradition; we are privileged to have two religious sisters on our staff … a number of priests and seminarians, (and bishops) have worked here as volunteers, and a former missioner … is a Catholic priest.

“We have a strong working relationship with St Vincent de Paul, and Monte Cecilia Housing Trust. The city mission, along with the Catholic diocese … is one of the founders and trustees of the James Liston Hostel, and the city mission operates the hostel on behalf of the Trust.

“In summary, we are family.”


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