BCAs are awarded twice annually and were created to recognise "everyday people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked". In the January 2016 awards, Charles Claydon was honoured for his services to volunteering and charitable giving having become a Samaritan volunteer in 2013 before launching his own organisation, My Mental Health.
“I didn’t know I had been nominated for an award, and was absolutely amazed when I found out,” said Claydon. “I don’t feel I deserve an award, as I love the work I do helping other people, it’s my passion. But it feels great to have been formally recognised, as it is a way of showing my work is having a positive impact and helping others.
"I started My Mental Health based on my own personal experiences, as I was undiagnosed for so many years and I didn’t want others to go through the same. There can be a lack of education surrounding mental health and it can appear corporate, so I wanted the organisation to be approachable and bridge the gap between doctors and the NHS."
Claydon has experienced depression and anxiety since primary school, which was undiagnosed until he was in his early twenties. He decided to share his own experiences of living with mental health as a way of supporting others. My Mental Health can be found online at www.my-mentalhealth.org.uk and also features a series of Claydon’s YouTube videos.
The online presence of the organisation has grown significantly, helping to break down the stigma of mental health and extol the benefits of having open and honest conversations. Following the award there are plans to launch a monthly meeting for those in need of peer-to-peer support across the country, starting with the financial district in London, where Claydon works for the Financial Ombudsman Service, given its "high levels of stress, lack of support and understanding and unnecessary struggle.”
Claydon was one of 33 medallists who were honoured at a ceremony hosted by actor Larry Lamb at the Palace of Westminster on January 28. Successful medallists were selected from public nominations by a panel of independent assessors. Each received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Now entering their second year, the BCAs, in partnership with customer feedback company InMoment, have attracted support from high-profile ambassadors including Duchess Sarah Ferguson, actress Brooke Kinsella and former high court judge Dame Linda Dobbs DBE.
After presenting Claydon with his award, InMoment’s president, Lonnie Mayne, said: “We are so honoured to be able to support this year's British Citizens Award and I was delighted to present Charles with his award for the support he provides through running his own mental health organisation. The true key to success across all types of relationships is a foundation of strong empathy and a willingness to take the right actions. Many thanks to the award organisers and recipients for including us in reinforcing this message in such a powerful way."
Nominations are being accepted for the July presentations. To request a nomination form please email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a form online at britishcitizenawards.co.uk/nominate-for-a-bca/