My name is Magdel Hammond, the National Manager for Mind and Body and Lived Experience but in my family I have a number of other names I go by- including Mum, which I have treasured as the most important name or title I could ever have. I now live in Whaingaroa Raglan on the West Coast with my husband (Nick) after 18 years up in Orewa on the Hibiscus Coast, where we raised our two children. Our daughter (Ansa) is a social worker in schools in Henderson and our son (Anton)is an officer in the New Zealand Navy. They love coming home to surf, but most importantly to have some of Mum’s cooking and baking – one of my favourite pastime activities, and having personally grown up in an Afrikaans household where home cooking and baking formed a significant part of our culture, they have high expectations of me!
We immigrated to New Zealand in 2002 and I landed my first job here working as employment consultant in the mental health supported employment field. It perfectly married my Southern Africa work experience in Human Resources, Training and Development and Social Work, as well as my own experience of unemployment over a period of nine years. That role significantly shaped my worldview on the lived experience or peer workforce and I became a passionate advocate for offering people opportunities to realise their potential through meaningful employment, whilst challenging the prejudice we saw in the mainstream employment sector.
In 2005 I was gently steered to look at the peer workforce by a leader who saw potential in me, which I was blind to - and the rest is history (as they say). This experience of leadership was key in shaping me in who and what I want to be as a leader – seeing the potential in people when they might not, and always being a supporter, coach, cheerleader, mentor, and advocate for people whose lives have been affected by the impact of mental distress and addiction, marginalisation, prejudice and discrimination. My role within Emerge Aotearoa and Mind and Body offers me opportunities to fulfil all those roles, to also challenge and ask some of the questions about what we are doing to truly honour and privilege the voice of lived experience, and also to authentically be who I am.
Today I count myself blessed to be surrounded by a team of people who are equally passionate about the peer and lived experience workforce, about being of service to the people who come to us for support, and about strengthening communities. The Emerge Aotearoa and Mind and Body vision, purpose and values truly speak to me and my almost three years here have been fantastic. I want to be part of seeing Emerge Aotearoa be front and centre of the changes we want to see in the sector, whilst also standing back and creating the space for Lived Experience voices to grow their presence and influence in Aotearoa New Zealand.