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Our very first blog post!

Welcome to our page and our very first blog post! It’s coming to the end of 2016, but here at The MACCAS project we are just getting started in other avenues. Our aim is to raise awareness of young people's mental health, through events, fundraising, on social media and most importantly talking to you, the local community.

The MACCAS project is part of North Staffs Mind. The project is specifically aimed at supporting young men’s emotional well being and mental health in the North Staffs area. It is an innovative opportunity and will be the only project in existence currently at a local level, focusing solely on young males aged between 14-26 years of age. Our project was created after a young man sadly took his own life; his name was Tom or Maccas as he was known by friends, family and throughout his community. He came from a loving and supportive family and was popular amongst his friends who would describe him as a brilliant, quiet genius. In 2011, Tom was diagnosed with the early onset of psychosis and had been struggling to come to terms with this, finding escape in music and creative arts, but every day was a battle.

In August 2012, aged 19, Tom took his own life.

In light of this sudden heartbreak, Tom’s family and friends began fundraising for North Staffs Mind, in the hope that tragedies like this could be prevented in the future and so, in memory of Tom, the Maccas Project was born.

New team join Maccas, ambitious to make a change:

On 23rd August 2016 the new team came together for an introduction day, we got to meet each other, find out about our backgrounds and why we have got involved. We started with an ice breaker which involved Caroline, Tracey, Rob, Zoe and Jamie. We told each other our background stories, where we all came from and our experience with mental health. It was apparent how determined we all are about making a change.

Two day workshop, to see what we do in schools, colleges and in the community:

We did a two day workshop, where we got to know each other a bit more and to learn about what our roles and objectives would be and how we could raise awareness of young people's mental health in schools and colleges. We were all very passionate, coming up with our own ideas for the workshops and thinking about what else we could add to our roles.

So who are we, and what are our roles?

Tracey is our project leader and she is very excited about the project and strongly believes the project can make a difference to young men's lives. She has worked with young people and professionals for many years as a counsellor and trainer. She is very experienced in building a project, networking with others and supporting people in need. Tracey said “I am extremely passionate about my role promoting awareness around mental health, challenging the stigma and working with young men on better ways of communicating emotions. I am excited about leading the project into a new direction and reach as many young people as possible; it’s ok to talk about how you feel. Although a lot is being talked about in the media at present about mental health issues I feel the focus is still aimed at physical health. I would like to break down more barriers to the importance of the state of our minds.”

Rob is also very experienced working within a number of Mental Health organisations; he is passionate about making the project a success. Rob is also a counsellor, who will bring these skills to this project role. He is looking to start groups for young people in the future. Commenting on his role at the project Rob said “Working at the Maccas Project is a tremendous opportunity and I have thoroughly enjoyed my work so far. Supporting young men who are experiencing mental health issues is so important in today’s society. I wish there had been a similar project raising awareness and reducing stigma when I was younger. Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK and I am determined to play whatever role I can to help address this terrible statistic.”

Jamie is a project worker who also works for North Staffs Users Group and has worked for Changes in the past. Jamie is the youngest person working for the MACCAS project, he is eager to make a difference and can’t wait to get out into the wider community and raise awareness of mental health issues. Having gone through his own mental health difficulties Jamie feels strongly about the project, and wants to help make MACCAS something that can benefit the whole city, removing the stigma around mental health. Jamie said “I am very ambitious about making a difference to young people’s lives and I am enjoying going out in the community to events raising awareness of mental health and suicide. I am looking forward to seeing where Maccas project will be in the future.”

Caroline is the manager of Younger Mind, and worked with Tom’s family to establish the MACCAS project. She continues to do a fantastic job in making MACCAS what it is today. She recognises the strengths and abilities of the whole team, she is encouraging, supportive and has given us roles, which ensure the project will grow and produce great results.

Zoe is also a counsellor who has worked for North Staffs Mind for some years. Her role in Maccas is instrumental in brokering relationships with schools and colleges; relentlessly working out dates for the delivery of our workshops to students (we are very busy!). Zoe is very driven about working on the project and making a difference to young people’s lives.

Josh recently left his role as a project worker for Maccas to take a job in full time employment; he did a fantastic job and gave us loads of information around the project and what had been done before we took our roles. Thanks to Josh for his hard work, he did great job in our local community spreading the important yet positive message around mental health.

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