"We can do something better." Trauma and Change with Charlotte

“Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before.”

Junot Diaz

This week I launch my new Trauma and Change course with Stoke on Trent City Council’s Festival of Practice. I have had the absolute pleasure of spending the last eight months researching and tackling this complex and ultimately far-reaching subject. Initially I thought I’d create something that would give learners an over-view of what trauma is and what we can do to support people who have experienced traumatic events. Cut to June 2022 and the course has become so much more than that. In fact, it is WAY more than that.

For those of you who have seen my previous post about the inspiring, witty and hysterically funny Ryan, you will see that I have interviewed a raft of people for the course and hopefully my co-production approach will help to inform practice for various professionals. One person who stands at the centre of this learning and development opportunity is Charlotte Bates. To describe Charlotte as an inspiration is doing her a disservice. She is in fact a legend.

With Charlotte’s input I have been able to hear not only her story but also listen to the way in which people around Charlotte behaved, reacted and ultimately relapsed or rebuilt their lives. As Charlotte said, “I always think it’s quite interesting that I get asked to do anything about trauma, because from anyone’s standpoint I’ve had a very privileged upbringing. Loads of opportunities, but scratch beneath the surface level…” Her story is incredibly compelling.

Sometimes people have zero power and minimal options in their life, they use various self-soothing coping mechanisms to block out the traumatic events that have happened to them. In some cases, people have felt like it was ‘their fault’ or felt judged by services. They lived with a shameful self-image and it was that which then compounded their issues. Viewed by some professionals as ‘chaotic’ and ‘ill-functioning’ they were people who were living with the daily effects of trauma.

It’s been pretty sobering hearing their stories and also extremely rewarding to see how far people have travelled from their old selves to their new stellar incarnations.