Leeds School of Social Sciences

The importance of the One Small Thing "Working with Trauma" quality mark

Dr Alexandria Bradley talks about her work with trauma and developing the Trauma Quality Mark with charity 'One Small Thing'.

The One Small Thing quality marks

The prevalence of trauma is on many peoples radar globally. Trauma is now an expectation rather than an exception. As a result of this, more places are adopting a ‘Trauma-Informed’ approach to support their staff and also individuals who access their environments or services.  This way of working has five core values to prioritise Safety, Trust, Choice, Collaboration and Empowerment for everyone (Harris and Fallot, 2001). The concept of working in a ‘Trauma-Informed’ way, originated from the United States of America and was designed for any human service. This means that there is no limitation to places working in this capacity.

This has resulted in entire cities nationally becoming ‘Trauma- Informed’.  I will take Plymouth as a key example (although other cities are adopting this model). Plymouth City Council has developed six key objectives in order to apply a trauma-informed lens across their city, their communities, services and partnerships. Importantly, Plymouth City Council refer to the strength-based approaches required in order to recognise and respond to both the immediacy and legacy left behind by traumatic experiences. A Trauma-Informed Network of over 70 practitioners across Plymouth work collaboratively to share their professional insights to look at a system wide approach which can protect individuals; prevent trauma and re-traumatisation; recognise trauma and respond appropriately.

Plymouth are not the only place working towards becoming ‘Trauma-Informed’. Large Criminal Justice System institutions such as Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, Private Prisons, and organisations in the Third Sector, have all begun to include ‘Trauma-Informed’ working within their strategic priorities, staff expectations and everyday practices.

Whilst the interest in trauma has increased at a rapid rate, there is a growing and urgent need for quality assurance, reflection and evidence, to support the claims of cities/institutions/services who are working towards becoming ‘Trauma-Informed’. Without the ability to evidence such claims, this could result in a dilution of the approach which has less impact and meaning.

In 2020-2021 I began working collaboratively with One Small Thing to develop the first national ‘Working with Trauma Quality Mark’. This quality mark is the result of extensive analysis of trauma-informed standards, principles, values, good practices, as well as meaningful examples from the voices of survivors and practitioners working in the field. With many places claiming to be ‘Trauma-Informed’, it was vital that organisations have a way to demonstrate and evidence their practice through robust, accessible, and supportive standards. The ‘Working with Trauma Quality Mark’ allows organisations to apply for the award at three specific levels (The Silver Award must be achieved before applying for the Gold level)

  • Bronze: Trauma Aware. An understanding and awareness of trauma and its impact and organisational plans in place ready to implement trauma informed practice.
  • Silver: Trauma Informed. Trauma informed working is implemented across the culture, practice and environment of the organisation and individual needs and well-being are prioritised.
  • Gold: Trauma Responsive. Extensive and embedded trauma informed working practices. It prioritises user voice in strategic decision-making and is a centre of excellence. (One Small Thing, 2021).

The award lasts for 3 years and can be used to support funding applications for organisations as it demonstrates and evidence trauma aware/informed/responsive practice. In addition, it enables practitioners to become part of a national network who are all on a committed journey to enhance their approach/environment(s)/relationships/staff wellbeing when working with trauma.

For More information about the One Small Thing Working with Trauma Quality Mark:

Quality Mark — One Small Thing

The One Small Thing quality marks

The 'One Small Thing' quality marks

Dr Alexandria Bradley

Lecturer / Leeds School Of Social Sciences

Alexandria specialises in Trauma-Informed, Responsive and Specific practice for men and women accessing support in prison and post-release. Recently, Alexandria has worked in partnership with One Small Thing to develop the first Working With Trauma Quality Mark to provide a national benchmark for trauma aware, trauma informed and trauma responsive practice. In 2020, Alexandria evaluated  trauma-responsive practice in a women's centre and a trauma-specific intervention for women with sex-working histories. 

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