Jamel is employed as a youth consultant at MAC-UK

My name is Jamel Fraser, I’m 25 years young and I work as a youth consultant at MAC-UK. I was born in London and raised in Hackney, where I still reside. I’m also currently studying for my psychology degree with the hope of becoming a doctor of psychology in the future.

Before joining MAC-UK, I worked at a few other charities doing various roles, from being a young person hired on a youth advisory board, to supporting young people into employment. I also worked at a funding organisation where I was able to learn what it feels like to be on the other side of the table. Unfortunately, due to my poor mental health I had to stop working and reduce my studies to better manage my health and responsibilities. During this time off work I continued to push for support for my health, but with high demand and long waiting lists, I am still waiting.

Joining MAC-UK

6 months later I decided I should try to get back into work, though just part-time as I felt I wasn’t ready to work full-time yet. I heard that MAC-UK were hiring for a youth consultant with lived experiences of poor mental health, the criminal justice system and able to consult on these issues from a young person’s point of view. I applied and was hired as a youth consultant.

I’ve been at MAC for 5 months now and it has been a wonderful experience. My role allows me to input into a variety of activities at MAC, including recruiting new staff, planning applications for funding, developing and delivering presentations (including one at a World Mental Health day event at City Hall), facilitating dissemination workshops and teachings, attending conferences and a variety of other tasks.

Jamel has worked for MAC-UK since June 2017

A Royal Reception

A highlight of my time at MAC-UK is when I went to Kensington Palace to discuss causes of violent crime, my own personal story and possible solutions. This meeting was special because it was sub-chaired by none other Prince Harry. I’ve been involved in a lot of meetings and conferences that are supposed to be attended by political figures in the past and not all of them show up. In this case, Harry arrived before everyone else and greeted us politely. He was very down to earth and listened to our stories, showing empathy, highlighting key factors that had affected us (which showed us he was listening), and he even gave us a task for our next meeting with him next year. This was a wonderful opportunity and fascinating experience meeting royalty.

Another one of the opportunities I’ve had that really stands out was when I got to teach class of final year PhD students. I found this intimidating at first and wasn’t going to do it. However, with support and encouragement from my colleagues I went ahead with the teaching and received positive feedback.

I never felt forced to do it and I was reassured that if I got stuck they would be there to support me. I learned a lot from this opportunity as I want to become a researcher in the future, but I may have to go about my research whilst being a professor which includes teaching. It helped me improve my teaching and presentation skills and give me confidence to stand in front of a class full of students.

I feel supported to take action to best manage my issues and workload

Overall, the support from my line manager and other colleagues is fantastic. My manager is always here to listen to both my work and personal issues. This is very important as it’s not everywhere you go your manager will care about your personal issues. With the dynamic we have, I feel very comfortable to call up and express myself, and be supported to take action to best manage my issues and workload. This can mean coming in a little later, taking a day or just a conversation to let it out. Without this type of support, I may not have been able to make it this far in my role.

I hope this tells you a little more about MAC-UK and what we get up to as a whole.