A UK-wide Trauma Council to support children who have experienced a traumatic event has been launched representing all four nations of the UK.
The UK Trauma Council brings together 22 leading experts in research, policy and practice from all four nations of the UK. It will drive positive change in the care and support provided to children and young people who have been exposed to different forms of traumatic event – including single incidents, as well as abuse and neglect.
Professor Eamon McCrory, Co-Director of the UKTC, says: “Across the UK, there exists enormous expertise about what support children need following experiences of trauma, but we do not always make best use of it. The UK Trauma Council will harness this expertise and help others learn from it. Perhaps never before has there been such a pressing need for collaboration across communities, professionals and services at national and local levels, in the interests of children and young people.”
The UKTC has identified three ways in which the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting on the experience of childhood trauma:
- It increases the risk that more children will be exposed to trauma, including through sudden bereavement or exposure to domestic violence;
- It increases the likelihood that those with prior experiences of trauma (for example, because of abuse) will experience significant difficulties; and
- It compromises the ability of adults and professional systems to identify a struggling child and mitigate the impact of trauma, including mental health problems.
David Trickey, Co-Director of the UKTC, adds: “None of us has escaped the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, but some have been more affected than others. For many children and young people, particularly those who have lived through previous trauma, the pandemic represents a series of potentially traumatic events. We should be in no doubt that this could have far-reaching consequences for their lives unless appropriate evidence-based help is available. We are seeing an increased need for services, and there is a need for a new energy in supporting children if we are to successfully mitigate against the impact of the pandemic.”
The UKTC is calling on the government to prioritise responding to trauma in national and local strategies and invest in specialist trauma provision for children and young people.
Furthermore, all professionals who work with children and young people should be equipped with the skills and capacity to support those who have experienced trauma. Models of help should be shifted towards prevention, through research, clinical innovation and training.
Dr Sandra Ferguson, UK Trauma Council member in Scotland, says: “I am delighted to see the official launch of the UK Trauma Council with its focus across the four nations on children and young people who are affected by trauma, particularly during these unprecedented times. The UKTC gives the opportunity for us in Scotland to work together with colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to best meet the shared ambition of a world which nurtures and protects children and young people following trauma. We will build understanding of how to reduce the impact of traumatic events, using the best evidence available and with the voices of young people themselves central.”