The Healing Together™ programme is for children whose lives have been impacted by domestic abuse and violence.
Innovating Minds is now training facilitators across the UK and internationally to deliver the programmes so more children can access the help they need by people they trust and in a space they feel safe.
One of the first organisation’s to take up the training will be Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust (OHC&AT). OHC&AT have been successful in gaining funding from the Youth Endowment Fund in order to upskill 18 of their staff to deliver the Healing Together programme. The fund prioritises work that will support vulnerable young people at risk of youth violence.
OHC&AT has 15 schools and six college centres to serve the needs of children and adults aged two to twenty four who have a wide range of learning abilities and additional needs including complex autism; speech, language and communication difficulties; social, emotional and mental health difficulties and physical disabilities including multi-sensory impairment and complex health needs
Developed by clinical psychologist Dr Asha Patel and trauma expert and author Jane Evans, the Healing Together programme combines neuroscience, attachment models and relational approaches to help children understand how their brains and body work together.
The Healing Together Facilitator Programme is open to anyone who has experience of working with children in a therapeutic way, regardless of the setting. Some will have qualifications, perhaps in psychology or counselling, others will have relevant experience of supporting children with emotional and mental health difficulties.
Staff at OHC&AT have been aware of the stress some students have been under during lockdown. Some of the children they work with live in insecure homes that face daily issues of debt, unemployment, drugs and alcohol. The lockdown has made things worse for families already on the edge and staff have been visiting, phoning, providing a listening ear and food parcels and liaising with different agencies.
This has been a challenging time as Lynn Barratt Director Corporate Development points out: however, through our partnership with Innovating Minds and with funding from the youth endowment fund, our schools will benefit from seeking guidance and consultation regarding an organisation-wide approach to supporting vulnerable young people that are at risk of youth violence. '
The Healing Together programme started with a request from mothers who had come out of an abusive relationship and wanted to access the same support for their children that they had received. The idea was that mothers and children would make their journey of recovery together.
Children who have experienced trauma living in a home affected by abusive or violent relationships communicate their distress in different ways. Sometimes schools and other family members find this hard to deal with.
Children are wrongfully labelled as ‘naughty’, 'violent', 'out of control' or 'withdrawn' or 'unresponsive'. They can be at risk of exclusion from school and struggle to access specialist help. OHC&AT has children who have been categorised as such and has considerable experience of helping families in a non-judgmental way.
The Healing Together Facilitator Programme is an accredited course that provides a different way of looking at the impact and trauma of domestic abuse. It is not just about delivering content. It is a much more collaborative approach that provides supervision and access to advice. It also benefits from ongoing support from Dr Asha Patel and the team at Innovating Minds.
Staff selected for the training will need to be open to working from a trauma informed perspective and open to self-reflection. This course can sometimes lead to trainees reflecting on their own life experiences and some may struggle to cope with issues such as child exploitation.
Once trained, the facilitators will be a bridge between Innovating Minds and the academy. OHC&AT intends to mix up the cohorts so it is not all teachers working together or people from the same school.
Laurie Cornwell, Deputy CEO of OHC&AT, said. 'This course is about equipping people the child already knows and trusts, with the skills needed to help them. In the past children went out of the academy to a specialist they had no connection with. Healing Together is ideal for us'.