A social services manager, who previously worked with Catholic organisations, has been appointed as the new Auckland city missioner.
Helen Robinson, who has led The Logos Project, and worked with Challenge 2000 in Wellington, will start her new role at the Auckland City Mission in April.
The new appointment comes ahead of the departure of the current city missioner, Chris Farrelly, who has held the position for the last five years.
Ms Robinson is currently the city mission’s general manager of social services, and she has worked at the organisation for ten 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 under way there, including the HomeGround precinct, due to open later this year, which is a purpose-built place of healing and transformation, with features including 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,” said city mission board chair Joanna Pidgeon.
As general manager of social services at the city mission for the past four years, Ms Robinson has overseen the development of services to include a Housing First programme, and the opening of two transitional housing programmes, including one specifically for women.
She has 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, Ms Robinson held leadership roles in the mission’s homelessness and food security teams.
Alongside her practical work, she has released research into the measurement and experience of food insecurity in New Zealand. Her commitment to resolving food insecurity also includes taking a lead role in the creation and implementation of Kore Hiakai, the national collective working towards a food-secure Aotearoa. She is currently co-chair of Kore Hiakai.
Mr Farrelly told NZ Catholic that the city mission has strong links with the Catholic Church, and Catholic Social teaching.
“In my time as missioner,” he said, “I have been aware of the huge support we receive from a number of parishes, schools and other Church-affiliated organisations.”
“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, (one Josephite and one Mercy), a number of priests and seminarians, (and bishops) have worked here as volunteers, and a former missioner, (Don Cowan) 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 (and Methodist mission), 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.”