Home   News   Conference tackles issue of traumatic childhood experiences

Conference tackles issue of traumatic childhood experiences

Posted on 16 Feb 2018

A major conference took place last Friday, hosted by Community Justice Ayrshire at Fullarton Connexions in Irvine. 

The conference shone a light on understanding trauma experienced in childhood, the effect on brain function and defence responses, and looked to see what is being done to aid those who have suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Adverse Childhood Experiences are stressful events occurring at a young age which may include domestic violence, parental abandonment, or being the victim of abuse or neglect as well as many other instances of trauma.

Chair of Community Justice Ayrshire, Councillor Anthea Dickson, welcomed delegates to the conference, called Start Where You Are and Do What You Can. The speakers, Karyn McCluskey, CEO Community Justice Scotland; Dr Suzanne Zeedyke, Founder of Connected Baby; James Docherty, Violence Reduction Unit; Dr Michael Smith, Associate Medical Director, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Jennie Young, University of Stirling; and Dr Warren Larkin, Warren Larkin Associates, enthralled attendees with a mix of academic understanding, life experience and examples of good practice.

The aim of the conference was to raise awareness for ACEs and how such events impact on life outcomes. Delegates also looked at the local response to ACEs, sharing of good practice currently underway across Ayrshire, with a view to working to common understanding and best practice in all the various organisations, to support the recovery of those who have been affected and promoting early intervention and prevention.

A major aim of the conference was to help kick-start culture change in relation to how we deal with people who been affected by trauma across Ayrshire, emphasising that everyone has a part to play, both in our personal and professional lives.

Councillor Anthea Dickson, Chair of Community Justice Ayrshire, said: “I believe that once you see the importance of ACEs, because of the effect they have on the brain and ability to cope with stressful situations, it is as significant as seeing that the world is round and not flat.” 

“Once you view negative behaviour as a symptom not a cause, then corrective action requires a different response.” 

“We have a lot to learn about what that different response should be but certainly know what we have been doing has been adding to the problem not reducing it.”

“The response to the conference has been fantastic, and I am grateful to the staff who organised it and the speakers who have challenged our organisations to each make a change – start where you are and do what you can.”

The event concluded with a screening of the award-winning 'Resilience' documentary, and it is expected that the film will be screened around Ayrshire in the coming months.

It is hoped that the event will be the springboard which will see Ayrshire working towards becoming a Centre of Excellence for Trauma-Informed Practice.