Belfast Telegraph

My Inspiration: Majella McCloskey

The chief executive of C03 (Chief Officers 3rd Sector) has found that one of her greatest inspirations is Martin Luther King and his message of hope and social change

With the backdrop of the Troubles, I came across Martin Luther King and his message of non-violent social change and I found this very inspirational.

Even now when I return to Martin Luther King, I find something new that adds another dimension of courage, honesty, hope and above all else, great leadership. When is was in my twenties Martin Luther King's words offered some understanding for the political context we found ourselves in here. He challenged the status quo and called inequality and discrimination exactly that.

His words and actions also conveyed the possibility that ordinary people could change their community through action for social change.

In this current economic climate, third sector leaders in Northern Ireland are working to deliver this type of aspirational hope, combining excellent business acumen with the ideals that remain at the fore of the third sector.

The result we strive towards is a strong civic society - one of regeneration, job creation, and protection of those most vulnerable.

Social change can be a long, slow, complex process with many issues to take into consideration.

Martin Luther King himself understood that coming to terms with economic issues was key to understanding injustice and building hope within communities.

Today, the work of the third sector does transform lives - it might be the first and only phone call an older person gets in their day, a foster parent who, through care and skill, rebuilds the life of a child or it might be a dedicated charity nursing team that brings care and comfort to someone at the end of their life.

It is also the advocacy that connects the experiences and concerns of our most marginalised to decision makers in government.

It is however Martin Luther King's great leadership that inspires me most.

Earlier in the month, Martin Luther King Day was celebrated in America with the day dedicated to volunteering.

He embodied courage, intellect, great communication skills and vision, as well as a thirst for equality and social change that has stood the test of time.

These are the ideals that as a third sector leader I work towards every day.