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Camden based mental health charity MAC-UK earns accolade for work on gangs

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 May 2013

From left, chairwoman of MAC-UK Heather Barker, chief executive Charlie Alcock, head of marketing Felicity Randolf and clinical lead Dr. Olive Moloney

From left, chairwoman of MAC-UK Heather Barker, chief executive Charlie Alcock, head of marketing Felicity Randolf and clinical lead Dr. Olive Moloney

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An innovative Camden-based charity working with excluded young people has scooped a national award.

MAC-UK received the GlaxoSmithKline IMPACT Award at a special ceremony at the Science Museum on May 16.

Set up in 2008 by NHS psychologist Dr Charlie Alcock, the charity seeks to help disadvantaged young people who may be experiencing complex mental health difficulties including depression, learning difficulties and substance abuse.

The charity says that putting mental health at the heart of solutions is the key to finding new answers to the complex issue of youth offending.

In London alone, gang members carry out half of all shootings and are involved in 22 per cent of all serious violence, while one in three offenders have an unmet mental health need when they commit their crime.

As part of MAC-UK’s work, mental health professionals go out onto the streets of Camden to talk to excluded young people about their problems and build up their trust.

The young people are then encouraged to develop their own activities before being helped into employment or education.

Radical

During the process, so-called “streetherapy” sessions can take place where staff from MAC-UK will work with a young person in informal settings, such as a café or a park bench.

The charity’s chief executive, Dr Alcock, who collected the award, said: “I wanted to radically change the way mental health services were being delivered to excluded young people.

“We found that many young people weren’t coming into contact with services, so I knew there must be a better way. That’s what inspired me. I wanted young people to find their own answers and for us to be lead by them. Our aim is for young people to be able to achieve futures that they want.”

MAC-UK was one of 10 charities nationwide to win the award. Each organisation also received £30,000 in funding towards their initiatives. Dr Alcock added: “It would have been a blue-sky dream when I first thought of founding the charity five years ago and our achievement is credit to the energy and passion of our staff, young people and local community.”

Well-deserved

The GSK IMPACT Awards are organised in partnership with The King’s Fund, a charity which seeks to improve healthcare.

Lisa Weaks, third-sector programme manager at the organisation, said: “Congratulations to MAC-UK for a well-deserved win.

“By approaching youth offending as a public health issue, they have bravely engaged with a very hard-to-reach group, with strong outcomes.”

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