Category Archives: medway magic

Mark Reckless MP Supports Charter To Improve Mental Health Services For Children With Autism

Mark Reckless and Hollie RyanMark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood and Hollie Ryan, a National Autistic Society (NAS) Young Campaigner from Chatham, both attended the parliamentary launch of the NAS’s You Need To Know charter, which aims to improve the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) system. Currently only a third of parents of children with autism believe CAMHS has improved the mental health of their child.

At the event, held in Parliament on 10th March, Hollie along with the rest of the Young Campaigners Group, who all have autism and have all used CAMHS services, held a special screening of their film ‘Open Your Mind’, which they created about their experiences. They also unveiled their 12 point charter to improve the system for other children with autism, that included the following:

  • The environment should… not have ticking clocks – Many people with autism are extremely sensitive to sights, smells, noises or sensations. Ticking clocks, whirling fans and fluorescent light bulbs can be incredibly distracting and distressing for people with autism
  • CAMHS professionals should… understand autism and that everyone is different – “You’re not ‘autistic’, you’re on the ‘autistic spectrum’ … think of it like a number line … not a hundred different numbers, like a thousand different numbers”
  • CAMHS should work with education – “My secondary school at the moment is everything I might possibly need… I don’t have to leave school to go to all these appointments. I don’t have to get to know loads of difference professionals. I can just go to one place and it’s there whenever I need it.”

Mark Reckless MP says,

“It was a privilege to meet these intelligent and talented teenagers from the Young Campaigners Group. They’ve worked extremely hard and overcome many difficulties to be able to produce their charter and film.

Many of the points they have put forward are simple to put into practice, and some require little or no cost, and I will campaign locally to help our local CAMHS services to take these ideas on board”.

Hollie Ryan, 15, Young Campaigner, says,

“Having had a bad experience with CAMHS, I felt very strongly about improving the service, as I wouldn’t want any other young people to go through what I did. For me, one of the most important things is that the CAMHS professionals should understand that everyone is different, and different things work for different people. On many occasions it has been assumed that I should act in a certain way because I have Asperger syndrome, when really I am totally different to every other young person, because I am me. A little understanding goes a very long way”.

Mark Lever, chief executive, NAS, says,

“The work of the Young Campaigners Group is so vital in helping to turn things around for children and young people with autism and mental health problems. With the right support at the right time, children with autism can have good mental health just as anyone else can – and the Young Campaigners Group aim to make this a reality.”

To help the Young Campaigners with their cause, the NAS is calling on supporters to ask their local authority to pledge to use the charter to improve support from CAMHS for children with autism in their area. You can email those who are responsible for CAMHS in your local area by visiting the following page on our website www.autism.org.uk/youneedtoknow

Mark Reckless MP Nominates Local Groups For National Award

Mark Reckless MP with Medway Magic Volunteers

Mark Reckless MP with Medway Magic volunteers

Mark Reckless MP has nominated two local organisations for a prestigious national award that could see them benefit from exposure on the national stage.

Mark Reckless recently called on Rochester and Strood residents to help him choose a local organisation for the awards.

Mark Reckless visits Strood Community Project

Visiting Strood Community Project. From left: Kate Broom, Paul Robinson, Mark and Paul Rai

Following feedback from contributors and regular visitors to this site, Mark has decided to nominate local community organisations Medway Magic and Strood Community Project for the prestigious awards.

The annual Centre for Social Justice Awards recognise effective poverty fighting groups from across the UK. Now in its sixth year, the CSJ Awards have brought over 70 winning voluntary groups to the attention of the national media and policy makers and a total of £223,250 has been given out to date.

Mark recently visited Medway MAGIC during their meeting at Woodies Youth Centre to hear for himself how the group is helping provide support to parents of children with Autism.

MAGIC stands for Medway Autism Group Information Centre and the group was formed to provide information and support to parents by parents whom themselves live with Autism.

In their own words:

Having an Autistic child is demanding in itself and often there is little time to find out more about Autism. Collectively we have a vast amount of information and experiences and are able to help each other get the best for our children. The children also benefit from having a network of friends.

MAGIC offers a point of contact for information on all aspects of Autism and co-existing conditions. We also aim to meet your child’s needs and make each event as individual and suitable as possible.

Speaking after the visit, Mark said:

“I was tremendously impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication shown by all the volunteers and parents at Medway MAGIC.

I know from my own MP casework that having a child with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autistic Syndrome (ASD) can be challenging in terms of finding the right help and advice. Having a local community network like MAGIC who can offer the support that parents need is very welcome.

Medway MAGIC has done a great job in raising awareness of the issues surrounding children with Autism and I found the meeting really constructive.

I’d like to thank all the parents and volunteers who gave up their time to meet me and I am proud to offer my support to both Medway MAGIC and Strood Community Project by way of nominating them for the CSJ Awards.

I was originally seeking to submit one group for this year’s awards, but having seen the fantastic work that is being undertaken by both organisations I simply couldn’t choose one over the other. Though Strood Community Project and Medway MAGIC work with the public in different ways, they share a common purpose in helping tackle the underlying causes of social problems and challenges faced by the community here in Rochester and Strood and beyond. I wish them both well.

From left: Kate Broom, Mark Reckless MP and Paul Robinson at Strood Community Project

From left: Kate Broom, Mark Reckless MP and Paul Robinson at Strood Community Project

Responding to the nomination, Kate Broom of Strood Community Project said:

“We are a non-profit organisation so the work we do isn’t rewarded with a large bonus or pay cheque. We rely on volunteers to give up their time to help others, so having some recognition for all their effort is our bonus.

It is fantastic to have been nominated for this award and I know it will mean a lot to the people of Strood who have been there to support us since we started in 2006.”

To find out more about how Medway MAGIC and Strood Community Project are working to help our community, please visit their respective websites here and here.