Javed Khan: Charity cultures can benefit from training all staff, not just experts on the front line

That's why Barnardo's has embarked on a charity-wide training programme that will make it a trauma-informed and responsive organisation

Javed Khan
Javed Khan

At Barnardo’s we are always asking ourselves how we can better serve the children we support and how we can ensure all our staff and volunteers are fully aware of the challenges our young people face, not just those on the front line. What more can we do to ensure we are the best we can be?

It is with these questions in mind that we have embarked on a journey to becoming a trauma-informed and responsive organisation, with a charity-wide training programme that has been made possible by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

This is a pioneering commitment to all our staff, not just the experts on the front line, who do an excellent job supporting the children and young people we work with every day.

This is about the entire workforce being at the forefront of understanding trauma and adversity, and the impact of trauma on children, young people and their families.

Our ambitious journey has started with two three-day training conferences for more than 400 staff, delivered by Dr Karen Treisman, a renowned expert in the field of trauma and adversity.

And it is continuing over the next three years with internal training for all our 8,000-plus staff – and we will offer it to our 22,000-plus volunteers too.

Rolling this out to all staff – whether on the front line, in our retail shops or in the finance team – means this approach to care and self-care becomes embedded in our culture and everyday working practices.

It’s no mean feat, but it’s the most important step we’ve ever taken to help the UK’s most vulnerable children.

We have chosen to invest in this training because we believe there is a vital need to understand trauma, the impact it has on children – and adults – and how we can respond right across our front line services, in our 700-plus shops and in every part of the charity.

We need to show compassion, empathy and understanding for the young people we support, for our colleagues, for our volunteers and for everyone in the Barnardo’s family.

We’re the largest organisation in the UK to be embarking on such a programme. But we know that without being able to take others along on our journey it will not be truly effective.

In our work protecting the UK’s most vulnerable children we have many partners, including national government, local authorities, the police and the NHS.

It is my hope that they come on board in this new way of thinking and acting by starting their own journeys to becoming trauma-informed organisations.

This will help us to achieve our ultimate aim of not just improving the support we give children today, but also to influence wider change so we can deliver even better outcomes for more children tomorrow.

Javed Khan is chief executive of Barnardo’s

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