Alo Raptopoulos, Founder & Chair

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Alo teaches Communication & Interpersonal skills at London South Bank University since 2006, to improve therapeutic engagement and psychology-based interventions in Mental Health Nursing. She’s a freelance Health & Wellbeing Consultant, providing guidance on person-centered care, training, recovery and access to treatments. In 2007, she set up VITAL (Vital Involvement in Training & Learning), an award-winning training course (UNLTD, GLEoneLondon) enabling clients and carers’ involvement in training and higher-education.

As a child, Alo was able to overcome difficulties at home by learning and practising a range of performing arts. This is why she’s set up ‘Cause YOU Can in 2010. A Singer, Songwriter, Musician and ex-Ballet dancer, she knows first-hand about the potential of creativity towards improving confidence, motivation and resilience.

She’s also set up ‘Cause YOU Can to tackle enduring inequalities in children and young people’s health and education. Alo wants them to reach their full potential and develop into happier adults, regardless of their background. The charity helps to meet the standards set up by the UK’s National Service Framework and government initiatives, such as Every Child Matters. Yet, child poverty in London is constantly rising. “Young people want to be heard and need more opportunities to show who they truly are. As a society, we need to better support their aspirations and show that we value what they have to offer if we want to support 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 been working in the third sector since 2003. She is currently the Director of Absolute Alchemy, a company that is concerned with helping organisations make a positive change in the community.  She has a broad and extensive range of skills and expertise of fundraising, event and volunteer management, communication strategy, and front-line experience with young people from complex and multiple disadvantage backgrounds. Karen has worked with several charities and supported the lives of vulnerable people with complex issues around mental health, drug and alcohol addiction, trauma and abuse. 

Karen has recently become a Wellbeing Practitioner that offers creative and relational approaches to working with complex children and young people, from a multi-disciplinary perspective. She loves working with the arts and getting messy with paints and glitter. She is currently working on a research project on Children’s Rights at the Institute of Education. She is 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, via research and through her own experience, that the arts and creativity are crucial in the future wellbeing of children and young people. She feels that mainstream education does not always provide enough outlets for children to explore and investigate the arts; especially to help those with mental health issues 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 to make sense of the complexities of their lives.