Students discuss WGU mission to become country’s first trauma-informed institution at national event

A North Wales university that is on a mission to become the country’s first trauma-informed institution has given students the opportunity to showcase their involvement in the co-production of the project at a national event.

Staff and students, who are leading on the Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience (TrACE)-informed workstream at Wrexham Glyndwr University (WGU), attended the launch of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Hub Wales’ new report ‘Trauma-Informed Communities: A Comparative Study of Welsh Models of Practice’, held at Aberystwyth University.

As part of the new report, WGU was highlighted as a case study for its work in aiming to become a TrACE-informed institution, in partnership with ACE Hub Wales. Being TrACE-informed means developing an understanding of trauma and adversity and the impact this may have on everyone that works and studies at WGU.

The university is aiming to embed a culture of understanding amongst all staff and students, and are using the ACE Hub Wales TrACE toolkit to develop this approach, which seeks to remove or adapt policy and practice that may traumatise/re-traumatise individuals.

The approach also ensures that everyone’s strengths are embraced and celebrated, and that individuals are given the opportunity to grow and thrive by promoting opportunities for wellbeing, healing and recovery, with everyone having a part to play in delivering this.

WGU have a TrACE Academic Development Team Associates Network, which consists of both academic and professional services staff, students and representatives from external organisations, who work on various aspects of the TrACE toolkit to embed practices and be change makers, in a bid to drive policy, process and cultural change across the institution.

Deborah Robert, WGU student and member of the TrACE Academic Development Team Associates Network, who was one of the students presenting at the event, discussed how she and fellow students were contributing to the university’s goal.

She said: “Having the opportunity to present at a Wales-wide event as a student was a great privilege – it was amazing that the university allowed us the chance to have a voice at national level.

“It was a fantastic experience, particularly in terms of being in the company of and listening to a host of inspirational individuals, as well as being able to share what we’re doing at WGU. This was an excellent example of student involvement in co-production and real world application of theoretical knowledge and presentation skills.

“I’ve been involved in the TrACE-informed project for two years now, and it’s been immensely rewarding and enriching to be part of. Myself, alongside my peers, have delivered talks and workshops about the impact of us being a trauma informed institution.

“We are also in the process of starting to train up students and staff to become TrACE champions, so that everyone can understand and adopt this kind and compassionate approach.”

Dr Caroline Hughes, Associate Dean in WGU’s Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, who is the academic lead for the project, added: “As the top university in England and Wales for Social Inclusion, the TrACE-informed project absolutely aligns with our commitment to widening access and participation, so demonstrating our students’ involvement in the co-production of the project is absolutely essential – and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Deb for sharing her and her peers’ contribution to this vital workstream at a Wales-wide event.

“Our values of being accessible, supportive, innovative and ambitious guide all that we do and this project completely underpins our overall purpose and approach.”

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