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Addictions, substance abuse, domestic violence, gang and social issues, are just some of the challenging issues that Andrew Rahipere and Raymond Mcpherson face every single day.

The Mahitahi Trust Community Support Workers have become shining lights for young people during their darkest days as they walk alongside them on their road to wellness.

Thanks to the Careerforce supported apprenticeship, and commitment from employer Mahitahi Trust, the duo have been able to embark on their own challenging journey, as they support the wellbeing of others. Both have successfully graduated with a New Zealand Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction.

Left to Right: Andrew Rahipere, Kailash Devan (Careerforce) and Raymond Mcpherson

The Mahitahi Trust is a Kaupapa Māori mental health and addictions provider, committed to supporting individuals and whānau across the Manukau and Auckland areas achieve wellness.  This is achieved through an integrated set of services (e.g. health, social, education, employment, housing) based on ngā Tikanga Māori (Māori cultural beliefs and practices).

“When I first learnt the role was about mental health, I wanted to quit in the first week,” says Andrew. “I had thought the job was ‘social worker’ and that was something I wanted to train to be.

“I was left with two options: do I want a comfortable job or an uncomfortable job?  I soon learnt that this was where I needed to be.”  Andrew has now been at the Trust for over two years.

His colleague Raymond has been at the Trust for four years, supporting and advocating for rangatahi/youth. With his own ‘lived experience’ he can even better support and guide others who are going through hard times. He is also on the community boards locally in the Otara area.

“A friend told me to apply for a Community Support Worker position because of my Te Reo Maori skills and because of my own life experiences,” says Raymond.

“My rangatahi need various ane wide-ranging supports such as clinical reviews, help with residential issues, help at school, training skills, D&A (drug and alcohol) programmes.”

According to Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Kailash Devan, the learning journey for both apprentices was not without its challenges.

“When I first read the questions on day one, my mind went blank,” says Andrew. “I struggled to understand and interpret them.  I eventually put it on hold and didn’t open it again for a few months.  Sometimes I wasn’t motivated and felt discouraged.  However, I told myself it had to be done and I’m the only one who could do it.  And I did!”

Kailash explains, “Guidance from their Learning and Development Manager Jody Babbington was instrumental.  She was able to break down the questions and utilise the Mahitahi model of care (Ngā Pou E Waru). Although it was a difficult journey, they have learnt so much and this has helped them to feel empowered.”

Andrew says, “With the support from Careerforce, I learnt to apply the knowledge I had acquired to resolve and support people facing mental health issues.  I’ve learnt how to choose the right delivery method and approach as well as gaining knowledge and skills to benefit others (whanau, kaimahi).

Raymond had a similar experience. “I found this apprenticeship programme very hard and struggled with answering some questions or interpreting what the questions were actually asking.”

“But I learnt that gaining more knowledge and skills and having strong support systems around you helps, everyone is different.”

Manager, Jody Babbington says “Both of them have done really well in their journeys, completing the Apprenticeship Level 4 Mental Health and Addictions programme.  They have changed a lot and are so motivated now to support others in the organisation.”

Raymond now wants to take his skills and knowledge home to the North to help and support the whānau in the rural areas. Andrew is staying put for now.  “I feel I have a lot to learn and offer in mental health, but if I did move on, it would be to a correctional officer role.”

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