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.