Ana leads the way

As newly appointed Social Services Team Leader for the Auckland based innovative health organisation The Fono, Ana Aitcheson sees her role as supporting her team “to deliver high quality services to families in need”.


 

 

A social worker by trade, having graduated with a Bachelor of Social Practise at Unitec in 2012, the young mother of three has plenty of experience, including frontline protection, supervision, facilitating parenting programmes and one-on-one protection programmes.
 

She soon realised supervision was her true passion.
 

“I love supporting, mentoring and teaching other social and family support workers,” she says.
 

“It was what Mum did when I was growing up and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
 

Ana’s mother is Government Minister Paula Bennett, whose Ministerial portfolios include Social Housing and State Services.
 

Of European and Maori descent, Ana spent her early years with her Mum in Taupo (where she was born) then Opotiki before moving to Auckland in the early 1990s.
 

Ana, an only child, admits she lacked self-belief growing up, but says the ongoing support and encouragement from her mother gave her the confidence she needed.
 

“I didn’t really think I was capable, but Mum insisted that I could do anything if I put my mind to it,” Ana recalls.
 

“Those words of encouragement gave me the strength and confidence to do more to help others.”
 

The family originally moved to Auckland and lived on the North Shore before shifting west.
 

Ana left school and worked in a paint store. She admits her heart wasn’t in it as she wanted to help those in need in the community.
 

After combining her studies with being a fulltime mother, she began working for a small community trust in central Auckland before finding employment out west. She also became a young mother and has since married her Fijian husband.
 

Ana began working at The Fono in Henderson three years ago, in which time the team she now leads has more than doubled in size.
 

“When I started we had Family Support and Mental Health programmes, but now we’ve got Family Start, Whanau Ora, Parenting and Family Violence contracts as well,” she says.
 

“It’s full on, and you sometimes wonder how you’re going to manage some very challenging and sad situations. But with a team of skilled practitioners to support you, you can do it. I’m thankful to have such an awesome team of well-trained, qualified, passionate, hard workers. There’s a mix of experience, with some of the older Pacific mamas along with younger graduates. It’s a cool mix and we learn a lot from each other. That’s what makes what I do so rewarding.”
 

About The Fono

 

The Fono provides affordable services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health promotion, social services, education and Whanau Ora. They deliver a combination of these services across five locations. With combined experience of five separate clinics stretching over 80 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, safe, vibrant and informed communities.
 

Click here to view The Fono’s website

 

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