Directors Dr Jacqui Jensen, Professor John Macleod and Dr Jo Williams look back on what the newly formed HIT achieved in 2019-20.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) HIT was formed in 2019 and has been well supported by a wide range of partners. The first phase of the HIT has focussed on stakeholder engagement, building understanding of adversity and trauma across the system, gathering evidence and building towards a case for change.
A network of ACE Ambassadors has been developed across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to help deliver the aims of the HIT as the work progresses. We now have over 300 trained ACE Ambassadors who can champion and help embed trauma informed practice within their settings. These professionals are based in settings such as children and family services, schools, children’s centres, health services, the police and young offending services. They are well placed to support the ongoing work of the HIT in gathering evidence of good practice, highlighting challenges in the system and helping to evidence the impact of changes we make. We have also begun to expand this network to include young people and other members of the community.
Modifications to multi-agency safeguarding training are already helping to ensure the workforce can recognise the signs and symptoms of adversity and trauma and to enable appropriate early intervention or to support recovery. A Knowledge and Skills Framework for adversity and trauma is being developed to promote a coordinated approach to workforce developed across the area. This includes emphasis of the importance of building resilience in communities, families and children. This framework is currently being modified to reflect new challenges arising from COVID-19 and a range of resources are being made available online.
The research workstream has been working with NIHR ARC West to shape and initiate research projects within the Adverse Childhood Experience theme of the Healthier Childhoods Research programme. These will be further developed, with other regional partners, over the coming year. This research programme will work alongside other local projects such as a new study about the effectiveness of interventions on the edge of care and important Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded research led by Alison Teyhan and Rosie Cornish to look at childhood adversity and violent crime using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), and police data.
The risks associated with adversity and trauma are increasingly being recognised in local strategy and policy. As a HIT, we will continue to support these developments and ensure ongoing research is informing system priorities and that we can evidence the positive impact of these changes.