Nelson youth worker, Bruno Saia, is passionate about helping young people overcome mental health challenges to lead better lives.
Bruno is driven by a thirst for knowledge, having impressively completed two New Zealand apprenticeships since his arrival in New Zealand from Brazil just four years ago.
With a background in journalism, his first role in his new country was as a reporter, but a desire to work with youth, inspired a career change. He landed a support worker role with Pathways, the mental health, addiction and wellbeing services provider, and later became a youth worker at ‘Real’, the youth brand at Pathways.
“When I came to New Zealand, I always had in mind the possibility of working in this area,” says Bruno.
“I applied for the position knowing that the mental health qualification was part of it. For me it was an amazing opportunity. They don’t really have this kind of thing in Brazil. You study while you work – it’s a great idea and makes total sense.”
Bruno successfully completed his Mental Health and Addiction Apprenticeship, and has now finished his Youth Work Apprenticeship with support from Pathways and work-based training provider, Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.
Bruno is inspired in his role supporting young people with challenges
In his role, Bruno supports young people who have all been through trauma. Some are struggling with various mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
“Two things inspire me; having the chance to interact and connect with these amazing young people who I’ve been supporting over the last few years. Also, having these interactions, there’s the hope and expectation that some little good thing can happen. Good things do happen a lot and it’s always very satisfying,” says Bruno.
“At the same time, it’s very important to understand that there’s only so much you can do. That’s one of the most challenging bits of the work, you can’t go and fix everything, you can just help.”
At a graduation event to celebrate completing his first Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction, Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Eric Kneepkens, suggested Bruno enrol in the Youth Work Apprenticeship.
“I hadn’t studied anything at all in many years when I had the opportunity to do the first level 4 apprenticeship. I was excited, confident, but it was also scary as well. It ignited something in me that hadn’t been awakened in a long time. So, as soon as it was finished, I thought, well, what’s next then?
It’s made a huge difference. I am much more confident than when I started 3 years ago
“It’s pretty amazing to have this opportunity and not one I would have had in Brazil. I think it’s very important to reinforce that this partnership with Pathways and Careerforce works well.
“Being able to do the assessments as I was supporting the people, allowed me to reflect a lot around what I was doing. It’s made a huge difference. I can tell I’m much better now, and much more confident, than when I started 3 years ago.
“Each assessment puts a light on a specific subject. Everything that was brought up within the apprenticeship, connected very well with what I was doing in a very practical way. It was very straightforward and made sense.”
Pathways and Careerforce have been very supportive
Bruno says his team coach at Pathways, Michael Nisbett was very important throughout the process.
“Michael was the person I would go to for support. I also had an opportunity to do the final youth work project, as a partnership and he arranged and made it all possible.”
Bruno was also thankful to Pathways for providing study leave days. This allowed him to step away from work and focus on his apprenticeship and make good progress.
He also thanks Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Eric Kneepkens who was really supportive.
Bruno says he would definitely recommend the Careerforce apprenticeship programmes to others, having already talked a friend at another organisation into enrolling.
“I reinforced to her that it’s not easy, but it is very rewarding, exciting, and important. Many people working in this area haven’t been studying for a long time, so that makes it hard at first. But I do believe that after you have got started, things do become easier, and it’s totally worth it.”
The momentum of learning doesn’t stop for Bruno. He has recently enrolled in Te Reo classes, to add a third language to his kete. Attending classes takes him away from time with his young daughter, but he sees it as a way to help her with her own cultural journey, one day.
For more information about Careerforce supported apprenticeships, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.