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Picador has acquired Street Clinic, the first book from award-winning mental health nurse, global mental health specialist and government policy adviser Dorcas Gwata, for publication in hardback in Spring 2024. World rights were acquired from Northbank’s non-fiction agent Martin Redfern.
Every day, award-winning mental health nurse Dorcas Gwata works with vulnerable young people involved in gangs and the associated knife crime, sexual exploitation, drug use and abuse. In Street Clinic, she guides us onto London’s bloodied streets, inviting us into her world, to witness her work with those exposed to violence by virtue of where they live and who they go to school with. By meeting young people on their level, on the street and on their terms, and by talking to them in a language they understand, Dorcas reveals how it’s possible to work through trauma, depression and anxiety towards something better.
Drawing on her own devastating experiences of loss and social injustice, of pandemics and prejudice, and twenty-five years on the NHS frontline, Dorcas offers a bird’s-eye view of London: its migrant population, its white working-class poor, its tireless healthcare workers, and an NHS that doesn’t always work for everyone. And she tackles the big questions: What lies behind London’s youth violence crisis? What is the impact on the mental health of the young people embroiled in it? How are their families and the wider community affected? And what can we learn from low-resource countries like Dorcas’s native Zimbabwe, with its similar experience of economic constraints and a vulnerable population?
Revealing some uncomfortable truths about the inequalities in British society today, Street Clinic is an eye-opening exploration of what youth violence means for the mental wellbeing of our young people. It is a story of vulnerability, resilience, strength and hope for the future.
Andrea Henry, editorial director at Picador, said: ‘It takes an exceptional person to do the kind of nuts and bolts mental health work that Dorcas does so brilliantly, and with such compassion. In a series of powerful stories, her book takes us on a journey to explore exactly what that “street clinic” work looks like and how she is able to make a real difference to young people’s lives so that, for those vulnerable kids, there is hope. We’re hugely honoured to be working with her.’
Dorcas added: ‘This project is a reflection of the mental health burden carried by young people and families who are exposed to gang culture in London. It is a story of resilience and how innovative nursing skills developed in poorly resourced countries can help to turn around mental health outcomes in vulnerable young people in London. It brings forth the lives of those excluded in our communities and sheds light on what is possible when we dare to care. I am delighted that Andrea Henry at Picador has given me the opportunity to share my story.’