CSSV welcomes our new Member and Community Relations Coordinator, Antony McMullen. Antony is no stranger to Catholic social services, having worked in the sector for many years. He brings to the role his own deep faith and commitment to member support and collaboration. He’s also a husband, father, musician, and a self-confessed ‘governance and policy nerd’. Given we are still working and operating in a physically distanced way, we put a few questions to Antony so that the CSSV community can get to know him a little.
You worked for CSSV a number of years ago, what brought you back?
I really enjoyed working with a cohesive and genuinely friendly team. My first staff meeting felt like coming home – I knew everyone! I was looking for a part-time job that dovetails with broader work that I do in the area of developing social economy member-based organisations. Practically, a part-time job was the perfect fit.
When I last worked at CSSV I focussed on social policy and advocacy with some event management and communications thrown in. Now as a Member and Community Relations Coordinator I get to apply my passion and skills to supporting members of CSSV to effectively achieve their goals in a way that is informed by Catholic Social Teaching and their respective Charisms.
What do you bring, in terms of attitude and approach, to the role of supporting and assisting CSSV’s members and mission?
It’s great to work with organisations who are doing such good work at the coalface. My most recent employment role was as a social housing practitioner. I’ve also worked in the areas of social policy, and a previous stint as an agency Director of a small faith-based organisation (that was focussed on addressing work-related harm and developing socially-focussed creative enterprises) means that I can understand and empathise with many of the challenges facing both leaders and practitioners active in social service organisations. I am also a bit of a governance and policy nerd, which might help here and there!
The knowledge and skills are ‘already in the room’ so a big part of my role will be simply to assist building connections and communication between the various agencies and to coordinate professional development opportunities to enable people doing such vital work to best adapt to a changing social services operating environment.
Within a faith/spiritual context, who inspires you and why?
My approach to community services whether working in Christian-based or ‘secular’ contexts is informed by my faith. The example of Jesus particularly through the lens of His timeless parables inspires as does the Epistle of St. James, which reminds us to include all – including the poor and everyday working people. I also enjoy visiting the social thought, surprisingly found in ancient sources such as the sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, and early Patristic thinking through to more contemporary Catholic Social Teaching post Pope Leo XIII.
Within a faith/spiritual context, where do you find nourishment and strength in your own life?
I’ve had a longstanding interest in the theology and practice of the Christian East which I cannot entirely explain. I have begun regularly attending Divine Liturgy at a Melkite Greek Catholic Church and I am finding this experience sustaining. At a time of turmoil in the Church and in broader society I have found ‘breathing with both lungs’ (the East and West of the Church) very helpful in assisting me to ground my spiritual outlook and practice.
What are your hopes for CSSV’s work your role as Member and Community Relations Coordinator?
To humbly adapt to the changing environment in a way that makes a positive social impact, but without compromising too much. To not only prioritise the poor but to include the poor and those left out. There is no doubt that the challenges of contestable funding and new forms of delivery will be a challenge – so how can CSSV help facilitate social service agencies doing together what they cannot achieve alone?
What are three things that people might not know about you, but which you think make up ‘who you are’?
I am adopted which has proved a life challenge but also a source of empathy that I tap into. I love music and used to play in a very obscure band in the 90s (that somehow recently got in the top 200 of alternative albums list … just in at number 200 on an equally obscure website). I wept watching a vintage Twilight Zone episode last night (much to the discomfort of a more junior family member).
On the weekend we’d find you … doing what?
Working on social economy projects, snobbishly listening to obscure music (from electronic through to contemporary classical through to sad pop) and enjoying time with my family who mean so much to me. I don’t tell anyone about still playing a little music here and there. But the secret is out now!