Building the Right Support Throuh Trauma Informed Approaches and Relational Working conference

The Restraint Reduction Network was delighted to co-host last week’s ‘Building the right support through trauma-informed approaches and relational working’ conference, in collaboration with Respond and Bild. This one-day, in-person event brought together academics, practitioners and people with lived experience for an insightful programme  that explored how trauma informed approaches can lead to kinder and more effective systems of care.

Our Chairs Elly Chapple (founder of #FlipTheNarrative) and Noelle Blackman (CEO of Respond) guided delegates with excellent insight and sensitivity through the thought-provoking and at times challenging sessions, offering space for both discussion and reflection.

Beverly Samways (Unique Connections) presented the keynote ‘Learning to Listen’ in which she highlighted the need for better practices around listening to people with learning disabilities who engage in self injury. With moving accounts from her work in the sector, she asked delegates to reconsider non-verbal communication as a shared experience rather than a difference to be overcome.

We later heard from Kit Shellam (Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) in ‘Our differently wired brains need the right holistic support after trauma’ where he highlighted that exclusion of people with learning disabilities from inquiries into traumatising events meant that people were being left behind.

In ‘A trauma journey’, Julie Newcombe (Co-founder of Rightful Lives) shared her journey with her son, and the impact that trauma has had on their lives. Julie advocated for professionals, family and people being supported to work as equals, for family-carers to be respected and listened to, and for changing the current model of care to be one in which people and families’ hopes and dreams are at its core.

In the afternoon, Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne (Clinical Director for Centre for Perfect Care and Director for National HOPE(S) NHSE Collaborative, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust) presented ‘Relational Working: The key ingredient to reducing restrictive practice’. Dr Kilcoyne explained how the use of restrictive practices in response to distress leads to trauma for both the person experiencing restrictive practice and the staff.

A range of insights and perspectives on trauma informed approaches to care and relational working were shared throughout the day, including:

  • ‘Listening and acting to avoid trauma’ with Baroness Sheila Hollins (Hollins – Independent Chair of Long-term Segregation Oversight Panel)
  • ‘The presence of connection’ with Liz Durrant (Head of Quality Transformation (Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism) NHS England)
  • ‘What would care look like in a trauma informed world?’ with Siofra Pereen (Service User Research Enterprise, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London)
  • ‘Organisational responses to trauma’ with Dr Roger Banks (Psychiatrist and retired National Clinical Director for Learning Disability and Autism in NHSEngland 2020-23).

Some of the comments and reflections delegates shared were:

“Safeguarding, and feeling safe are different. Psychological safety is key to reducing trauma.”

“Shared human experience builds connected bridges to support one another, in a trauma informed way.”

“…it is so important we actively listen to people. Why we must believe them when they share their truth.”

All the key speakers delivered powerful messages and there is much to ponder on the journey home.


Thank you to all our speakers and delegates for your contributions to the day.

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