Fulfilling Lives learning event 21st September 2021

How do we move towards becoming a trauma informed system?

We are now into our final year of the 8 year Fulfilling Lives project and our focus is on capturing and disseminating our learning in order to maximise legacy in shaping and influencing positive systems change for people with multiple complex needs.

Through the direct client work we have learnt about the high prevalence of the experience of trauma, and in particular complex or compound trauma, amongst people experiencing multiple disadvantage. We know that it can be a precursor to all sorts of problems including recurrent homelessness, addictions, mental health difficulties, violence and abuse.

We also know that many services and systems can end up excluding and further traumatising the very people they are designed to support and help. If services increase their understanding and awareness of trauma, they will become more trauma informed and better equipped to respond to any people in need, in particular people presenting with complex difficulties.

On Tuesday 21st September, Fulfilling Lives South East project hosted an online learning event to explore the question, ‘How do we move towards becoming a trauma informed system?’

We had a really good mix of delegates attending the event which was held on Zoom including those from local authorities, DWP, voluntary and community sector organisations, spanning homelessness, young people, drug and alcohol and domestic abuse, NHS partners including MH, primary and secondary care and reps from the ICS.

The event started with a keynote address by Dr Warren Larkin, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Visiting Professor at Sunderland University & Director of Warren Larkin Associates Ltd who drew on his 25 years’ experience to advocate for the democratisation and application of trauma informed working practices in service settings. Focusing on key examples, where systems and practices have been changed and re-shaped with a trauma informed lens, the presentation looked at the benefits of this knowledge being understood and implemented at every level. Like with safeguarding, everybody should be informed about trauma and staff need to be empowered to support people.

Watch the Warren Larkin keynote video here

This was followed by 2 case studies of partnership projects undertaken by Fulfilling Lives:

  1. Rebecca Rieley Systems Change Lead, Fulfilling Lives, and Dr Peter Cockersell Chief Executive of Community Housing & Therapy, and consultant in psychological approaches in MH and homelessness presented on the work they did with the Housing Needs Service at Brighton & Hove City Council and sharing the timeline of collaboration and move to a more trauma informed support system, with a focus on PIE.

Watch the Housing Needs Service at Brighton & Hove video here

  1. Colleagues from the DWP and Fulfilling Lives SUE team talked about a long-term collaboration and how this has impacted positively on the workforce. This session outlined and explored the partnership between Brighton JCP and Fulfilling Lives, which began in 2019 to improve their service to better support the MCN customer base. The session began with an explanation of the timeline and key milestones in the FL-DWP working relationship. It started with a DWP coffee morning in 2019, followed by an environment assessment of the Brighton JCP offices, a mystery shopping exercise to assess service delivery, and live workshops and training videos for DWP staff delivered in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Alterations to the Brighton JCP environment and staff training practices as a result of these exercises was described.  Quotes from DWP staff on the impact of the FL workshops was shared, showing that the training was well received (an ‘Excellent’ Net Promoter Score). DWP colleagues shared how the organisation responded to the FL training, and that FL trauma Informed training will be included for all new staff across Surrey and Sussex with potential to be expanded to cover more of the South of England.   A Fulfilling Lives volunteer shared her motivations and experience taking part in the production of the videos and stated the importance of lived experience in service design.  She felt a sense of reward in doing something that benefits the people, as well as gaining confidence from taking part.

Watch the DWP and Fulfilling Lives video here

The final speaker was Louise Patmore, the Participation Programme Lead for the Sussex Health & Care Partnership, (our local integrated care system). In this session, Louise spoke about the work of the trauma informed working group, discussing its core principles and aims. She outlined the strengths and benefits of working in a trauma informed way alongside some of the challenges of implementing this way of working. Measuring impact was highlighted as a possible source of tension within organisations and services who are required to quantify and measure in terms of numbers and data. A call to action followed to explore ways of measuring quality and reporting on the impacts of kindness, compassion and quality of care.

Watch the Louise Patmore video here

The event finished with a panel Q&A and a commitment from delegates to continue this work locally in Sussex. A word cloud was created by all delegates at the end of the event to summarise the characteristics of a trauma informed system.

Fulfilling Lives are committed to support the development of a cross sector community of interest to complement the work of the Sussex Health & Care Partnership and we will be coordinating a follow up network meeting before the end of the year (date TBC).

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this work further, please contact [email protected]