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Responding to trauma means all of us working together

7 September 2020

Ahead of the More Than My Trauma webinars next week and the 2021 conference, Dan Johnson, Clinical Director at Kibble, shares his hopes for driving enduring organisational change towards truly trauma-responsive services for young people 

In the past few years there has been heightened interest in the effects of trauma and adversity, and what this means for how we care for children.

It seems like most people understand the basics. Firstly, children’s experiences can have a profound effect on their development. Secondly, experiencing traumatic events can mean a higher likelihood of poor mental and physical health, and concerning behaviour. Thirdly, experiencing consistent and attuned care can raise the likelihood of healthy development. And finally, the most complex difficulties can occur when children experience trauma in the absence of the care and support they need.

Kibble is a specialist child and youth care charity and social enterprise with roots dating back 160 years. We provide a range of integrated services for children and young people aged 5-26 ranging from education, residential care, secure care, intensive fostering and community housing and support. We also have several social enterprises and a partnership with St Mirren Football Club that aims to provide employment and vocational opportunities.

At Kibble, our research shows that many of the children and young people we care for have experienced significant adversity and trauma. We understand that this is often the root cause of many of the difficulties they experience in the here and now. This understanding has meant that we’ve been trying to find the right response for these children both at an individual level, but also as an organisation.

As we have implemented trauma-responsive services we’ve learned that doing it properly, to implement authentic and meaningful changes, is not quick and nor should it be easy. In fact, when children have some of the most severe experiences and display some of the most concerning behaviour, it can require people at their best, working together. Responding to children is sometimes hardest when it is needed most, and it can rarely be done alone.

For this reason, we’re helping to organise the More than My Trauma conference. It will bring together some of the world’s leading experts with committed workers who are trying to do the right thing for children every day. This is a fantastic opportunity to work together to find real, tangible and practical ways to support and respond to young people. As more people understand the basics, the focus shifts to finding creative and powerful ways to directly support children.

The conference can be a big step forward in this. If we’re lucky, it could help Scotland move to a new phase of the trauma journey we’ve been on, and lead to meaningful changes in the way that children are educated and cared for.

Dan Johnson, is Clinical Director at Kibble.
He can be contacted by email:

For more information about Kibble, click here to visit the website

About the author

Dan Johnson is Clinical Director at Kibble

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