Queen’s study calls for trauma informed strategy for Northern Ireland

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Queen’s University Belfast

23rd Feb 2024

New research from Queen’s University Belfast is calling for the adoption of a trauma informed approach across all systems, organisations, policies and services in Northern Ireland, for the benefit of all in our society.

The report, ‘We are on a Journey: Implementing Trauma Informed Approaches in Northern Ireland’, was commissioned by the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, with funding from the cross-Executive Programme on Paramilitarism and Organised Crime (EPPOC). The Safeguarding Board has been supporting workforces and organisations to become trauma informed since 2018. The research was commissioned to gauge what progress has been made in embedding trauma informed practice since then.

The research found that trauma informed approaches improve outcomes for service users and their families, including better relationships with providers and access to the right support at the right time. There were also benefits for staff and organisations, including increased job satisfaction and support, reduced staff sickness and turnover, leading to potential cost savings in the longer-term.

Based on the findings, the report recommends governmental commitment through a trauma informed strategy for Northern Ireland. The authors recommend establishing a regional Trauma Informed Approach resource centre or hub and a trauma-related training framework promoting learning and best practice consistency across services and settings.

Representatives from EPPOC’s Political Advisory Group, comprising Sinn Féin, DUP, Alliance, UUP and SDLP issued a collective statement in support of the research, commenting: “We welcome this important research paper on implementing trauma informed approaches in Northern Ireland. People in our society experience adversity and trauma in a range of ways, so it is important that we adopt a trauma informed approach across our system if we want to support those who need it most. By doing so, we will improve the life chances for all of society and create the conditions for children, and adults to thrive.”

The importance of adopting such a systemic approach was emphasised by Bernie McNally, Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, who said: “Early adversity and trauma can negatively impact on individuals and communities and their ability to feel safe and to develop trusting relationships. We all deserve to live in a society that prioritises trauma responsive environments, policies, systems and services, that can benefit local people and communities.”

The lead researcher and report author, Dr Suzanne Mooney from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s stated: “Trauma informed approaches were universally perceived as having ‘no downsides’. They provide many benefits for service users and their family/network, but also for staff and service providers. These are critical issues in light of workforce recruitment and retention challenges across Northern Ireland.”

For more information on the report, please visit the Safeguarding Board for NI website: https://www.safeguardingni.org/trauma-informed-approaches/latest-research