Alo Raptopoulos, Founder & Chair

Alo has taught at Lon­don South Bank Uni­ver­si­ty in the Fac­ul­ty of Health & Social Care (Men­tal Health Nurs­ing) from 2005 to 2016. She’s been a free­lance train­er and con­sul­tant in Health and Social Care for over 13 years, pro­vid­ing advice on per­son-cen­tred care, recov­ery, treat­ments, access, and ongo­ing input in staff train­ing. She now also teach­es Hatha and Ash­tan­ga Yoga. In 2007, she has set up VITAL (Vital Involve­ment in Train­ing & Learn­ing), an award-win­ning (UNLTD, GLEoneLon­don) train­ing course enabling ser­vice users and car­ers’ involve­ment in train­ing and high­er-edu­ca­tion.

Alo was encour­aged and sup­port­ed to learn and prac­tice a range of per­form­ing arts as a child. This helped her a lot to cope with dif­fi­cul­ties at home. This is why she set up ‘Cause YOU Can in 2010. A singer-song­writer, musi­cian and ex-bal­let dancer, she knows first-hand about the pow­er of cre­ativ­i­ty and self-expres­sion towards improv­ing con­fi­dence, moti­va­tion and resilience. She also knows that many can­not afford it.

Cause YOU Can tack­les the inequal­i­ties that hin­der chil­dren and young people’s well-being and edu­ca­tion. Alo wants those who live in London’s most deprived bor­oughs to reach their full poten­tial. Despite the stan­dards set up by Future in Mind and the UK’s Nation­al Ser­vice Frame­work, such as Every Child Mat­ters, child pover­ty in Lon­don is con­stant­ly ris­ing. “Many chil­dren and young peo­ple feel dis­em­pow­ered and want to be heard. They need more oppor­tu­ni­ties to shine and show who they tru­ly are. As a soci­ety, we need to nur­ture their cre­ative aspi­ra­tions and val­ue what they all have to offer, if we gen­uine­ly want to sup­port their pos­i­tive devel­op­ment and attain­ment.”

Marieke Wrigley — Treasurer

Marieke WrigleyMarieke trained and qual­i­fied as an occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pist at the Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege of Ripon & York St John (North York­shire). She’s worked in the NHS for over 25 years, in a vari­ety of men­tal health set­tings. In 2007, she became Team leader for SHARP, the Social Inclu­sion, Hope and Recov­ery Project, based in Lam­beth. SHARP is unique, inno­v­a­tive and ground­break­ing in pro­vid­ing evi­dence-based and time-lim­it­ed inter­ven­tions that are focused on well-being and recov­ery. The ser­vice has its own art gallery where clients and staff reg­u­lar­ly exhib­it their works togeth­er.

Marieke’s charis­mat­ic lead­er­ship and prac­tice draw on a com­pas­sion­ate and holis­tic approach to well-being. She likes to devel­op and research into new ways of work­ing. She is an expert in ther­a­peu­tic inter­ven­tions, includ­ing Fam­i­ly and Sys­temic work, Solu­tion-Focused Ther­a­py (SFT), Mind­ful­ness and Cog­ni­tive Behav­iour­al Ther­a­py (CBT).

Marieke has a pas­sion for the arts, with a par­tic­u­lar inter­est in music and pho­tog­ra­phy. Through per­son­al expe­ri­ence and pro­fes­sion­al prac­tice, she has repeat­ed­ly observed the ther­a­peu­tic and trans­for­ma­tion­al impact that visu­al and per­form­ing arts can have on adults, chil­dren and young peo­ple, such as con­nect­ing, mov­ing and inspir­ing them.

Karen Stenning — Secretary

Karen Stenning CYC TrusteeKaren has a broad and exten­sive range of skills and exper­tise of fundrais­ing, event and vol­un­teer man­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­e­gy, and front-line expe­ri­ence of work­ing with young peo­ple from diverse, com­plex and mul­ti­ple dis­ad­van­tage back­grounds. She’s been work­ing in the third sec­tor since 2003. She’s cur­rent­ly the Direc­tor of Absolute Alche­my, a com­pa­ny con­cerned with help­ing organ­i­sa­tions make a pos­i­tive change in their com­mu­ni­ty. She worked with sev­er­al char­i­ties and sup­port­ed the lives of many vul­ner­a­ble adults with com­plex issues around men­tal health, drug and alco­hol addic­tion, trau­ma and abuse. 

Karen is a Well-being prac­ti­tion­er who offers cre­ative and rela­tion­al approach­es to work­ing with chil­dren and young peo­ple from a wide, mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary per­spec­tive. She loves work­ing with the arts and likes exper­i­ment­ing with paints and glit­ter. She cur­rent­ly works on a research project on Children’s Rights at the Insti­tute of Edu­ca­tion. She’s also cre­at­ing a Lead­er­ship pro­gramme with 360 Expe­di­tions, to help cor­po­rates to become more social­ly respon­si­ble.

Karen is extreme­ly pas­sion­ate that CYC is a vital ser­vice for chil­dren and young peo­ple in our mod­ern soci­ety. She has evi­dence, through research and her own expe­ri­ence, that the arts and cre­ativ­i­ty are cru­cial in the well-being of chil­dren and young peo­ple. She feels that main­stream edu­ca­tion does not always pro­vide enough out­lets for them to explore and inves­ti­gate the arts; espe­cial­ly those with emo­tion­al dif­fi­cul­ties or those who are liv­ing com­plex and trau­mat­ic lives. Through CYC, young peo­ple can be offered a safe space, giv­en a voice and use per­form­ing arts and film-mak­ing to talk about and make sense of the com­plex­i­ties of their lives.