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A positive attitude, the support of her whānau, and MSD’s Mana in Mahi initiative have all helped turn Eryn Vesey from a shy teenager living with epilepsy and severe tremors into a confident young therapist, doing a job she loves.

Eryn, 21, says she has struck it lucky after progressing from volunteer apprentice to a fully qualified diversional therapist at Forget Me Not Adult Day Care in Whangārei where she gets to enhance the quality of life for adults who are socially isolated through disability.

Through Mana in Mahi, Eryn was able to complete her Apprenticeship in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) Community Facilitation Strand Specialising in Diversional Therapy (Level 4) while volunteering at Forget Me Not.

Diversional therapists plan and run recreation programmes that enhance people’s wellbeing.


Eryn feels she had landed on her feet with this dream job

Eryn Vesey

Once a shy 19-year-old, Eryn has overcome her own health barriers and learning disabilities to land her dream job, supporting clients with a range of daily activities that keep their minds active and build their social skills.

“I had epilepsy as a child and school was not my cup of tea because I was always having seizures I couldn’t really focus.” she says.

“I think I’ve landed on my feet with this job. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Given her regular seizures as a result of a stroke at birth, Eryn and her family once thought a fulltime job was out of the question. Eryn was worried she wouldn’t be able to get her driver licence, let alone hold down employment.


Eryn completed an apprenticeship while volunteering 

Eryn accepted the challenge with the support of her mother, Anita Vesey, her family, and Forget Me Not manager Dr Tina Darkins, utilising the financial supports offered through Mana in Mahi to have one-on-one sessions with her training provider, Careerforce.

Together, they developed a health management plan that has assisted Eryn to perform her duties at work and obtain her full licence.

Darkins says she saw huge potential in Eryn with her unwavering commitment and loyalty. As her seizures became more manageable, taking her on as an apprentice was a natural progression.

“We were delighted to have someone so young who wanted to work with the elderly and those with mixed abilities,” Darkins says.

“She has proved to be just very kind, very understanding, able to work at the pace of the client and alongside that, she has worked very well within our team.

“She has never been afraid to ask questions … that’s the kind of workplace this is. It’s inclusive, and about working together for the best outcome.”

Based in Tikipunga, Forget Me Not Adult Day Care helps between 30 and 40 clients per day from all walks of life. Darkins mentored Eryn and three other colleagues to help them obtain their qualifications.

“We are very lucky here in that we have managed to train, counting Eryn, four diversional therapists. That’s unheard of in New Zealand.”


“I’m really impressed with her attitude and commitment”, says Work Broker

MSD Work Broker, Janna Mortimer has been supporting Forget Me Not Adult Day Care with recruitment and investment for approximately four years.

“Eryn often told me she really loved volunteering with Forget Me Not so the potential for her to move into employment was evident from the start. With Mana in Mahi support, Eryn has been able to study and be employed at the same time.” says Mortimer: “I’m really impressed with her attitude and commitment.”

Eryn is just one of many apprentices to move into or retain their trade with the support of programmes such as Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work. The Government’s Apprenticeship Boost programme recently reached a significant milestone, supporting over 50,000 apprentices to move into or retain their trade.

If you’re an employer who is keen to help someone who needs additional support to kickstart a long-term career, MSD can help with funding and on-the-job support through Mana in Mahi. Talk to your local Work and Income Work Broker, contact 0800 778 008 or submit a Mana in Mahi Enquiry online through the Work and Income website.


Published courtesy of MSD