Financial mentor Kathryn Burton usually plays a key role as trainer, consultant and workshop facilitator. Recently Kathryn also sat on the other side of the desk when she enrolled in the NZ Diploma in Health and Wellbeing Level 5, supported by Careerforce.

According to Kathryn, “financial mentoring is a very rewarding practice because it can be transformational for the people who come in”.

Kathryn describes herself as an advocate. “I advocate for people and I help others such as social workers, whānau ora navigators, social housing providers, and other people across the helping professions to advocate.

“I advocate for anyone who’s experiencing not knowing what their rights are or getting access to their rights. Also, for people with aspirations around financial goals that they would like support with.” Kathryn also runs professional development workshops for other financial mentors.

“There is a perception that only people who have or are perceived as being needy, should be accessing services. Everyone should be able to access support when they need it, if they want it. If you feel vulnerable, you are vulnerable – vulnerability is a snapshot in time rather than a state of being.”

Kathryn learnt a lot about what training and professional development her sector needed. “I saw the relevance of this Health and Wellbeing Diploma and how it would inform a lot of the work that I do with the training of other financial mentors and, also social service providers.

The Careerforce programme leading to the New Zealand Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5) Applied Practice is designed to qualify advanced support workers who work closely and collaboratively to support people with complex needs.

“Our sector had struggled to find a relevant qualification for people who work in the financial mentoring sector,” says Kathryn. “The diploma qualification sounded interesting. It was for our sector, and across our sector.”

Careerforce Health and Wellbeing Assessor Catriona Baker was teamed up with Kathryn. Kathryn shared that the study involved more work than she had anticipated.

“Once Catriona came on board, it was good. She let me know that she was there. I was able to work through it at my own pace, which was quite slow because of the amount of other work I had to fit around it.

“I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and I’m very glad I did it. It was a chance to get a qualification in an area that I’d worked in for a long time and getting the skills I had recognised.

“The programme was great, I found it really useful, just to get me thinking how I do what I do. Getting to reflect on and consider how I do my work, not so much the work that I do. I thought that was quite good.”

Kathryn shared that she hadn’t done any formal study for a long time. Although she finds research easy and has an ability to translate things that other people will read and not necessarily understand, this was quite a challenge.

“I’d completed a National Certificate in Adult Education and Training almost 10 years ago, but the move back into study and the discipline that you needed, I found quite hard, particularly with trying to balance it with work.”

“Financial mentoring can be awesome and amazing to see people’s progress,” adds Kathryn. “In one case over a three-year period, a woman first engaged with me had literally come out of emergency housing and had been homeless. On another engagement she’d just bought her first car and later was settled in a house and paying off a mortgage. She also had other aspirations as well that I had never thought were achievable.

“One of the misconceptions is that it’s all about people who have financial needs or are not able to manage their money. It’s not really about that, it’s more about a journey and how that client gets to where they want to be. It starts with a conversation about the idea of financial aspiration. For many people in New Zealand they’ve never been in a position to have financial aspiration.”

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