What is the community agreement?
The NCLB community agreement is a commitment between Cheltenham schools, organisations and residents that we will support one another in a way that reflects kindness, empathy and understanding.
We believe that when we are interacting with people it’s important to consider how their experiences shape the way they respond; how they communicate and behave.
We are asking Cheltenham to commit to working together in a way that is honest, open and shows an understanding that everybody’s experiences in life are different.
We want to help people understand the effects of trauma, particularly in childhood, and to value emotional wellbeing.
We want organisations working with families to be inclusive, trustworthy and, overall, kind. We want this commitment to be reflected in their policies, their practice and their decision making (including financial). Understanding the impact of childhood adversity, focussing on people’s strengths and delivering trauma-informed practice will help us all to work together in a more positive way.
Why are we making this change?
We want Cheltenham to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Increasingly people understand the importance of mental wellbeing, inclusivity and kindness. More and more research is being done about the effects of childhood trauma, such as the CDC-Kaiser ACE Study.
Adverse childhood experiences
ACES stands for adverse childhood experiences. These experiences can include things like physical and emotional abuse, neglect, mental illness of a parent or carer, and domestic abuse. The more ACEs a child experiences the more likely they are to suffer from things like heart disease, diabetes, poor academic attainment and issues such as substance misuse in later life.
Experiencing lots of ACEs could cause so much stress it actually changes the way a child’s brain develops – you can even see it in brain scans.
This can affect the way they manage their emotions, the way they respond to stressful situations and their decision making skills.
Trauma-informed practice is the terminology used for organisations whose services recognise the long term effects of childhood adversity, and work with clients in a way that makes them feel safe, gives them control and choice over what happens to them and is respectful and non-judgemental.
How can you get involved with the community agreement?
If you are a business, school, charity or any other organisation, we’d love you to sign up to the agreement.
Go to the top – your CEO, directors, governors etc. Get them on board and get them to sign up. If you are the person at the top, communicate the message to your teams, so that your staff understand that this is the ethos and the culture of the organisation they work in and can make day-to-day decisions based on these principles.
Whether you’re a professional working with children and young people or a member of the community, it would be great if you could sign up to the agreement. Throughout the year we will keep you informed about events and opportunities. We will also be aiming to run training sessions in our communities on some of the key topics later in the year, so keep an eye out for those.
These are just some of the schools and organisations who have signed up to the NCLB Community Agreement so far...
Most of all just treat people with kindness (there’s that word again) and remember that everyone is facing their own challenges and has been shaped as a human being by them.
People who have experienced trauma won’t always respond to things in the same way as you or others, and may need extra support or a different way of communicating.