News Release from City of York Council Labour Group – Immediate Release: 20th March, 2024

Move to make York ‘Trauma-Informed’ City

Councillors this week will discuss a proposal to make York a trauma-informed city, meaning services will operate with a greater understanding of how trauma impacts residents and service users.

Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event. Almost 50% of children will experience trauma, including but not limited to, physical or sexual abuse and neglect, and the impact of substance abuse in parents or others close to them.

Becoming trauma-informed responds to the fact that the effects of trauma remain with people long-term. Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. It is linked to a range of negative outcomes such as poor mental health, substance misuse and suicide, especially without appropriate responses from support services.

Labour councillor Ben Burton will propose a Labour motion on the topic to councillors this Thursday.  He explains:

“Almost all residents in the city will experience some type of trauma during their lifetime. Significant trauma and especially childhood trauma can have wide- reaching effects on people’s lives, impacting people in deep ways, including in their mental health and relationships. It’s vital the council learns and adapts to the growing evidence base around the impacts of trauma in people.

“Being trauma-informed is well established in a number of services, organisations and cities across the country and shows the path York can follow to improve outcomes for its residents.  We know from discussions we’ve had that several organisations in York are supportive of adopting this approach and want to work with the council to achieve it.

“My motion will ask Executive to consider how embedding a trauma-informed approach within council services can be achieved.  This will require discussion within and outside the council to include commissioned services, as well as with our health and education partners.

“We’re especially keen to see a trauma-informed approach in mental health support services.  Much of what’s required is about individualising a person and properly understanding them to determine how they can best be supported.

“In addition, if supported by councillors, as a council we need to develop understanding of what being trauma-informed means across councillors and council officers for this initiative to really benefit our residents.  If we are discussing it frequently, it will become much more the way we and our partners think and represent a hugely positive step forward for the city”.

Councillors will debate this and other motions this Thursday evening at 6.30pm, at the Citadel in Gillygate.


Cllr  Ben Burton – Tel: 07718 260289


Notes to Editors:

Making York a Trauma Informed City motion

Council notes:

Trauma can be experienced through exposure to emotionally distressing experiences. This could be a single incident, or prolonged exposure to difficult and upsetting circumstances. Sources of trauma can be varied and complex;

Understanding of trauma and the impact it has on survivors is well established, highlighting that its effects can be significant, wide-ranging and affect many aspects of people’s lives;
47% of children in the UK will experience at least one Adverse Childhood Experience, such as physical or sexual abuse or neglect, and 1 in 10 people in the UK will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some time in their life;

Trauma can result in increased likelihood of a range of negative outcomes including lower life expectancy, increased likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental illness and a heightened risk of death by suicide;
Certain groups, including people experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, women, those who’re care-experienced, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionally affected by trauma;

Organisations that adopt Trauma-Informed approaches provide more positive experiences for trauma survivors;
Scotland, Humber & North Yorkshire Health & Care Partnership, numerous NHS Trusts and many local authorities have adopted Trauma-Informed approaches as best practice;

Under the Humber and North Yorkshire Health & Care Partnerhsip, there are four phases to becoming Trauma-Informed: Trauma Aware, Trauma Sensitive, Trauma Responsive and Trauma-Informed;

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) used their own Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) protocol up until 2018, which identified people exhibiting many types of typical trauma responses under the label of BPD+, despite this not being a nationally recognised diagnosis.
Council believes:

People who have, or who are experiencing, trauma can experience many barriers when accessing services. These can be complex and sometimes misinterpreted by professionals;

Services or organisations can unintentionally retraumatise or cause additional trauma to service-users. Implementing a Trauma-Informed framework reduces the risk of this occurring;

Trauma-informed approaches benefit both trauma survivors and frontline staff;

Service users and staff must have a voice in the decision-making process of the organisation and its services;
Consistent and thorough implementation of a Trauma-Informed approach is an important way for schools and education settings to better understand and respond to the needs of children and young people;

Successful implementation of Trauma-Informed approaches in the city will require a multi-agency approach and buy-in from external organisations;

The use of the BPD+ protocol in the city by TEWV NHS Trust meant many people with severe trauma were provided with inadequate care. Though TEWV stopped officially using the BPD+ protocol in 2020, many residents accessing services more recently continue to report – through Healthwatch York and other voluntary and community sector organisations – the use of processes linked to the BPD+ protocol.
Council resolves:

To take steps to become a Trauma-Informed City and commits to working in partnership to embed Trauma-Informed frameworks across services and partner agencies, working in co-production with trauma survivors;
To ask the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care and Executive colleagues to explore the introduction of a Trauma-Informed framework across Council services;

To request the Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care explore the introduction of training for staff and councillors, including e-learning modules, that enables City of York Council to become a Trauma-Informed organisation; to work with partner organisations to implement a city-wide approach to raising awareness of the impact of trauma and how becoming Trauma-Informed can help to support trauma survivors; to consider the implications of making it a requirement in commissioned contracts and services that partner organisations can demonstrate they have, or are implementing, a Trauma-Informed framework;

To recommend the Health, Housing and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee request a report from TEWV NHS Trust on its prior application and progress in moving beyond the use of the BPD+ protocol, an assessment of current staff understanding and the outlining of any trauma-informed approaches it is implementing.

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