Collaborating to help the NSPCC become a Trauma Informed Organisation

Many of us have a vision of how the world needs to be. The key to making that vision a reality is to collaborate, to join forces with others who share that same vision.

The American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote

“Despite current ads and slogans, the world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what’s possible. This is good news for those of us intent on creating a positive future. Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections. We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits. Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage and commitment that lead to broad-based change”

As agents of change, we need to work out how and when to join forces with others, so we can use our collective experience and shared assets to inspire social change.

That’s just what Knowledge Change Action and Warren Larkin Associates have done to support the NSPCC on their journey to becoming a trauma informed organisation. We formed a partnership for this project because we recognised that we had shared ideas about what needs to change, and what we can contribute to that change, and, crucially, a common set of values. We recognised that the act of collaboration, would be enriching to all of us and the benefits to the NSPCC would be greater than the sum of the parts. Not surprisingly, the NSPCC, with its 100 year plus history of child protection, joining forces with two of the most experienced and respected providers of trauma informed training, research and consultancy in the country, has led to tremendous learning for everyone involved. This collaboration helps us to accelerate a movement that has already gathered considerable momentum in the UK in the last five years and hopefully this work can encourage and inspire more practitioners, organisations, systems and communities on their journey to becoming trauma informed.

Across the sectors we need to keep challenging ourselves to collaborate if we want to achieve sustained change. Many of the physical health, mental health and social problems that arise in peoples’ lives, in families and in communities do so as result of adverse childhood experiences, trauma or adverse community circumstances and conditions. Very often the problems we see are complex and the solutions are beyond the scope of any single agency or service. Cross sector collaboration and multi-disciplinary working is often required to formulate and provide appropriate help and support. Each organisation has things that another doesn’t, and it is only when we unite around a person, family, community or other cause, that we realise each other’s assets and strengths and begin to appreciate how we can achieve more when we collaborate.

If we strip it back to basics, it’s all about building safe relationships and building trust. Working in a trauma informed way, requires that everyone models the approach. It sounds easy on paper: Put relationships first, priorities creating a sense of safety for everyone, promote trust, transparency, collaboration, choice, inclusivity, and value lived experience. Living and breathing this every day; in everything you do individually and as an organisation is a continuous improvement journey which requires long term commitment, humility, and the help of others. In the words of Margaret Mead, “the world doesn’t change one person at a time. It changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.”

It’s clear that Warren Larkin Associates, Knowledge Change Action, and the NSPCC have a shared cause and it is our hope that our collaboration brings additional momentum to the growing adoption of trauma informed approaches and ethos in the UK.

Richard Holmes & Warren Larkin