WAVE Trust 70/30 Ambassador, Daphne Cotton, hosted a hugely successful awareness-raising event on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) at The Exchange in Twickenham on 19th September.
‘Resilience: the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope’ (Director James Redford) was seen by a packed audience, including policy makers from Richmond Council. Health leads, health professionals, headteachers and a variety of public and voluntary sector workers were amongst those attending. The screening was followed by a Q & A discussion with Twickenham MP Sir Vince Cable and a panel of experts comprising George Hosking (WAVE Trust), Dr Sarah Temple (Ehcap Ltd) and Shabira Papain (Best Beginnings)
The science of ‘Toxic Stress’ and the major findings that came out of the ACE Study (published 1998) are only now coming into the public domain, thanks in part to James Redford’s film. When children experience high doses of stress in their lives, the impact on their brains and their bodies can be devastating, often leading to lifelong health and social problems which tend to pass from generation to generation. Toxic stress is now understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from poor academic performance, substance misuse, mental ill health, heart disease and cancer, to violence and criminality.
The power of the film is that it demonstrates the possibility of breaking the inter-generational cycle of damage by the healing effects of trauma-informed practice. Babies and children suffer ACEs, not because of bad parents but usually because of bad things that have happened to the parents themselves when they were young. It is time to really tackle the root causes of society’s problems and break this inter-generational cycle of violence, addiction and disease. This is what Daphne is hoping will happen in Richmond and elsewhere. Already the response from key people in the borough, including Cabinet Members from Richmond Council, has been very positive indeed.
Since the Twickenham event, Daphne has been to Glasgow where she met Dr Nadine Burke-Harris, the paediatrician featured in ‘Resilience’. Dr Burke-Harris was the keynote speaker at a conference in the city on 26 September, “Making Scotland the first ACE-Aware Nation”, which was attended by over 2000 delegates.
As a direct result of the Twickenham event, local Police Inspector Ed McDonagh, along with Detective Superintendent Tor Garnett of the London Met Training and Transformation division, have organized a screening of ‘Resilience’ at Cineworld, a 700-seat cinema in Leicester Square on 29 November. These were Tor’s words in an email to Daphne the morning following the Twickenham screening: “Huge congratulations on such an inspiring event . . . I would very much like to explore how we could spread this within the Met so that we could become a trauma-informed police service – following on the heels of Scotland, South Wales and Ayrshire”.
Daphne will be on the Q & A panel following the Leicester Square screening, along with two of the Met’s top brass, Commander Richard Smith, Safeguarding Lead and Commander Mark McEwan, Head of Profession, Crime Prevention, Inclusion and Engagement. Also on the panel will be Rachel Egan, Assistant Director Early Help, Wandsworth.
As Daphne said “The knowledge is catching fire, it is having an impact and there is a sense of momentum and a sense of hope that we might at last be able to put in place, right across the country, what is needed to make a real difference.”
If you would like to get involved in helping to create an ACE-aware trauma-informed community in Richmond and neighbouring boroughs, get in touch with local Ambassador, Daphne Cotton, firstname.lastname@example.org.