As a country, we’ve become increasingly aware of the impact of adversity and trauma on children, young people and families. Indeed some of the work going on in Scotland is truly world-leading. That’s why I’m so delighted that we will now take the next steps in that journey by hosting an International Child Trauma Conference on 17-18 September 2020.

We’ve got off to a flying start with confirmation that world-renowned trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry will address the conference. Dr. Perry is well placed to lead this unique conference, where we will explore how to promote and support recovery from trauma. The founder of The ChildTrauma Academy in Texas, Dr Perry is also the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of the bestselling book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog.

In a recent interview with him, Oprah Winfrey asked how children can overcome traumatic experiences, Dr Perry replied: “Really it boils down to something pretty simple. And it's relationships.” That’s something that really resonates with us at Staf so we’re excited to hear more.

As a member of the steering group organising the conference, I look forward to working with representatives of other organisations with direct experience of supporting children, young people and families to recover from trauma. This includes representatives from Aberlour Child Care Trust, Clackmannanshire Education and Psychology Services, Clackmannanshire Education Service, Seamab, Kibble and Children in Scotland.

At its heart, this event will be about working together. To do that, we will also ensure that children, young people, families and people with lived experience will help design the conference programme and participate in the event itself. For our part, we will ensure care experienced young people are represented and that their voice is heard.

Together we’ll learn more about trauma and brain development, informed by the latest research and neuroscience. But to achieve change we need to go further. So this conference will look at how we apply that knowledge in practice to deliver better lives for young people.

We know that adversity and trauma can deeply affect young people: not only does it impact their life chances but our society as a whole is all the poorer without their vital contribution. Now, with this exciting conference, we have an opportunity to come together to change lives for the better.

Norma is CEO of Staf.

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