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Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – Katie’s New Housing Professional blog

Our New Housing Professional finalists have all blogged for us from a session on day one at TAI 2017 – here’s Katie Howells, Merthyr Valleys Homes’ blog.

Katie Howells, Merthyr Valleys Homes

The link between Housing and Health is evident and well researched. A 2015 Public Health Report outlined how ‘A home is a central part of people’s lives. Good housing can help to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing.’ I think it’s fair to say that providing good quality housing is on every social housing providers agenda, but where does the prevention of ACE’s fit in? Have we considered the role we can play in tackling the issues surrounding ACE’s and how this can have a positive influence on our tenants futures and our own organisations?

I have no doubt that the impact of a good quality stable home, where they can feel safe and comfortable can often be the foundation of improving someone’s life. Although the session on day 1 of TAI Housing Conference looking at the role of housing in preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences left me with a desire to want to do more.

The evidence discussed at the session was really shocking and told a story of how early life verbal, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental separation, mental illness, alcohol abuse, drug abuse or incarceration within a household can shape a very negative future for an individual. It told how over 14% of adults in Wales had suffered 4 or more of these traumas. The research does not shy away from the fact that the percentage in more vulnerable groups is likely to be a lot higher, therefore working in Social Housing; with the most vulnerable people within society it is so important we lead the way in addressing ACE’s.

Whilst the picture painted today was a very negative one, we can work together to create a much brighter future for Wales through early intervention and prevention. Research outlined how influences such as a positive adult – child relationship or raising awareness of the real effects of ACE’s can positively change these behaviours. Within Housing we can lead by example through;

Collaborative working through already established relationships with the Health Service, LA’s, Police and Support Services to raise awareness of ACE’s and their impacts.

Building upon tenant relationships and trust to encourage conversation around ACE’s

Early intervention through training of frontline staff to recognise signs of potential ACE’s

Signposting and providing support when these are identified

Introducing new tenant training programmes around positive parenting or signposting to already established programmes

Continued support of youth services, in times of budget cuts

Working together as a sector to encourage policy reforms to protect the most vulnerable

This will not come without a challenge and I am concerned that the added pressures Welfare Reform will bring to households could lead to a further increase in the number of ACE’s experienced throughout Wales. Therefore it is integral that housing associations in Wales do not lose sight of their social purpose, and continue to work collaboratively if we are going to break the cycle and prevent future generations being so hugely impacted by ACE’s.

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