A.C.E. – Building a Trauma Informed Community

The Dry Arch Children's Centres are working in partnership with the Western Trust to develop a more A.C.E. Aware and Trauma informed Community in our area.

Adverse childhood experiences (A.C.E.s) are stressful or traumatic events which have occurred during childhood. They could include abuse, neglect, household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have addictions.

ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan. 

The Dry Arch Children's Centre have recently acquired the rights to the "A.C.E. DVD" - The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope.

This has and will continue to be shown to professionals, parents, carers and the general public in the forthcoming months by the Dry Arch Children's Centre and the Western Trust. To arrange a screening of this DVD either at the Dry Arch Centre, or within your setting please send us an email to info@dryarchcentre.org

To give you an example of what A.C.E.s is, it can be any of the following;

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mother treated violently
  • Substance misuse within household
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member

ACEs have been found to have lifelong impacts on health and behaviour and they are relevant to all sectors and involve all of us in society. We all have a part to play in preventing adversity and raising awareness of ACEs. Resilient communities have an important role in action on ACEs.

An ACE survey with adults in Northern Ireland found that compared to people with no ACEs, those with 4 or more ACEs are more likely to

  • have been in prison
  • develop heart disease
  • frequently visit the GP
  • develop type 2 diabetes
  • have committed violence in the last 12 months
  • have health-harming behaviours (high-risk drinking, smoking, drug use).

Childhood Experiences Pyramid Graphic

Pyramid showing the correlation between adverse childhood experiences and health problems later in life.

The Dry Arch Children's Centre has been working closely with children and families for over 20 years and has developed strong links with the community. We are working closely with the Western Trust, Schools and other partners to;

  • raise awareness and understanding about ACEs
  • contributing to developing the evidence base on ACEs
  • develop appropriate approaches to prevent ACEs and mitigate their negative impacts.

Through our ongoing work at the Dry Arch Children's Centre we are working to reduce ACEs by;

  • preventing household adversity
  • supporting parents and families
  • building resilience in children and wider communities
  • enquiring about ACEs routinely in our services to respond appropriately
  • encouraging wider awareness and understanding about ACEs and their impact on health and behaviour
  • using encounters with adults in services such as homelessness services, addiction, prison or maternity services, to also consider the impacts on their children or future children.