Forum Central partner Volition delivers Trauma Informed Communities as part of the Compassionate Leeds strategy.

This programme of work sits within the Compassionate Leeds: Trauma awareness, prevention and response strategy for children, young people and families.

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Volition employs Sally Drinkwater | Community and Young People’s Development and Engagement Lead.

0113 242 1321

[email protected]

Sally Drinkwater
Sally Drinkwater

What is trauma informed practice?

Becoming trauma-informed is not an end state, but a journey. It’s about awareness, sensitivity, compassion and empathy at every level, and in every place. Trauma informed practice is not a therapy; it’s a way in which every one of us can help others who may have experienced trauma.

A trauma–informed approach is based on a recognition and understanding of the widespread experience of adversity and trauma in the lives of children, young people and their families.

Trauma informed practice, like restorative practice, is a ‘way of being‘ in our relationships with other people. At its heart is a fundamental shift from thinking ‘What is wrong with you?‘ to considering ‘What happened to you?‘.

When we first meet people we don’t usually know what they have experienced in life. And the person may not realise they have experienced trauma. We don’t need to know, to bring trauma-informed practice into our work; it’s a helpful way of working for everybody, regardless of their life experiences.

Making trauma informed practice a universal approach supports everybody. It magnifies the power of every moment and interaction in our work and relationships to help people feel safe.

Compassionate Leeds

Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults: they will soon become the parents, workers, and community leaders in Leeds. Leeds is investing in becoming a compassionate, trauma-informed city to protect our children’s health into adulthood and prepare them to nurture the next generation of children.

A trauma informed approach will mean that as a city we act to prevent trauma and respond with compassion.

The Compassionate Leeds strategy forms part of the broader Leeds Future in Mind strategy 2021-2026 (pdf). A plan for Leeds that explains how people are working together to improve mental health and emotional health for young people. Priority 5 of the plan is focussed around recognising and responding to the impact of trauma.

To learn more read the Compassionate Leeds: Trauma awareness, prevention and response strategy for children, young people and families.

Compassionate Leeds – A Trauma Informed Approach Orientation Sessions

Find out more about the Compassionate Leeds: Trauma awareness, prevention and response strategy at one of our free online monthly orientation sessions. We are running four sessions between September and December 2023.

The session is focussed on the city’s approach to Trauma Informed Practice when working with children and young people and breaks down the understanding of what the approach is. It is not a training session to become trauma informed but it will give you and your colleagues more of an insight into the approach so you or your organisation can start to think about how you can implement the approach.

The session will be of particular interest to community and voluntary organisations including faith groups that work with children, young people and families in Leeds.

Book your place on Eventbrite to attend one of our Compassionate Leeds: Trauma Informed Approach Orientation Sessions.  

Our Work

A number of community organisations have received funding as part of the Compassionate Leeds strategy.


Forum Central has partnered with Leeds Community Foundation and NHS Leeds Integrated Care Board on two grant programmes. Both the funds take a test and learn approach, with the ambition to embed learning into the Compassionate Leeds strategy.

The two grant programmes are:

  1. Trauma Informed Work in Communities: 2022
  2. Trauma Informed Work with Minoritised Ethnic Families: 2023 – this builds on the work of other grants programmes including the Trauma Informed Work in Communities and the Addressing Mental Health Inequalities in Minority Ethnic Groups grants. The focus is on increasing engagement with children and young people who experience inequity because of their race and ethnicity. Organisations in receipt of funding is to be confirmed.

Trauma Informed Work in Communities: 2022 funding is focused on community organisations that:

  • Work with children, young people and families to promote strong, healthy relationships and teach relationship and pro-social skills.
  • Boost protective factors in children and young people who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, adversity.
  • Might not have a prior understanding of trauma or trauma-informed practice; yet, recognise their organisation values align with the trauma-informed approaches of: awareness, sensitivity, compassion and empathy.
  • Have a sense of curiosity about becoming a trauma-informed organisation.

Trauma Informed Work in Communities Grant

The following organisations have been awarded Trauma Informed Work in Communities Grants:

Basis Yorkshire offers information and support to women and young people across Leeds, Bradford and Hull who are being or have been sexually exploited and abused as well as supporting indoor and street-based sex workers.

Our young persons’ service offers a variety of services for those who are at low risk, aimed more at prevention/early intervention (often group based) to high intensity one to one therapeutically informed work with young people who are currently being sexually exploited or abused. Our service is voluntary and child centred. The fund supports The Stage Project, which is a group that offers opportunities to young women aged 16-25 years old to further strengthen self-esteem and their understanding of healthy relationships. Service users are involved in all aspects of their work.

Fall into Place Theatre aims to prevent and reduce social isolation in Leeds using creative activities to connect people and build stronger communities. The organisation primarily provides support and activities that are primarily based in the LS14 area for the benefit of residents local to LS14 and LS15 area. A programme of activities for children and adults of all ages and abilities are delivered at Kentmere Community Centre and in the local community of Seacroft.

The Trauma Informed Work in the Communities Fund will be used to support 100 young people from Seacroft over a two year period using the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), Mindfulness courses, mentoring programmes and weekly group activities.

Building Futures Together was created to engage, encourage and support young people aged 13-18 to consider the construction industry as a career. The organisation collaborates with G&H Group and has a facility in a real business setting where young people can take part in vocational Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing sessions. Building Futures Together believes young people need a positive and enjoyable learning environment. Vocational learning has a significant role to play in careers education and helps with mental wellbeing especially after the continuing impact of Covid-19. Our setting offers a place for young people to come and socialise with people of similar ages, create long-lasting friendships and reduce the fear of social anxiety.

Building Futures Together plan to use this grant to deliver vocational mechanical, electrical and plumbing sessions at their purpose-built facility for YP aged 13-18 who have encountered childhood trauma and have social emotional mental health and special educational needs. The sessions will be delivered during the 13 weeks school holidays across two school years.

Let’s Do More CIC was established in 2018 with the core purpose of inspiring positive change within the communities the organisation operated in: Chapeltown, Beeston, Armley, Seacroft and Burmantofts).

Let’s Do More (LDM) started as a campaign to get more people active and involved in positive activity, it now operates as a multi-faceted organisation, with all services linking to the organisations main aim to raise aspiration and inspire positive change for all those we work with. LDM have made a special commitment to the youth and have set up a multitude of programmes in some of the most deprived communities in Leeds, most notably our LDM Basketball programme which is growing to give more young people in the region opportunities to play and grow within the game.

Let’s Do More will be using the fund to pay for a mental health support worker who will work across all our satellite sessions in a mentorship and safeguarding capacity. They will  support the link between our sessions and external mental health support for our young people, encouraging and promoting basketball’s role as a protective factor for our young people.

Shine Bright CIC supports children, young people and their families to transform their emotional and mental wellbeing, build stronger and healthier familial and peer relationships, tackle isolation and develop social skills that inform resilience building, self-management, and crisis prevention. Shine Bright achieves this by facilitating peer recovery group support sessions utilising our evidence-based WRAP© ‘Wellness Recovery Action Planning’ programme. The adapted youth programme incorporates peer support, youth work, trauma informed practice and the creative arts effectively engaging and educating our younger communities who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing adversity. They learn to develop their own Wellness and Crisis Plans, boost their protective factors, build up an ongoing support network and upskill, increasing their capacity to manage their futures.

Shine Bright CIC plans to use the fund to run 3, 12-week WRAP group programmes for 8 – 25 years old each year. Each group programme leads on to an ongoing peer support group. Up to 15 children or young people can be recruited to each group.

Health for All is a charity created to meet the needs of people in south Leeds and continues to respond to the changing needs of individuals and communities in Leeds and beyond. We provide a wide range of health-related activities for people unable to access mainstream services. Our services improve the quality of life for all generations. Our mission is to enable the poorest and most vulnerable communities to overcome the challenges of health and social inequality. Our grassroots approach invests in safe, welcoming community spaces, tailored services built around communities in need, instilling confidence and equipping people with the skills to live happy, healthy lives. We work with a range of communities of interest including people with learning disabilities, older people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, families, young people and support nearly fifty small community groups.

Health for All will be using the fund to employ a care experienced project worker to support vulnerable, isolated care experienced young people and kinship care children. They will build our 1:1 and group session plans on skills and strengths of care experienced young people and empower them in a peer support environment to find their own solutions.

Circus Leeds started 30 years ago as Leeds Children’s Circus, providing circus activities for children, young people and adults. Circus Leeds focus on bringing people & communities together across a spectrum of ability, socio-economic status, age and culture; enhancing wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem through physical movement, skills development and play; providing a hub for circus artists to share skills and develop their professional practice.

Circus Leeds are using the fund to work with Bracken Edge Primary School in Harehills, Leeds plus other community partners to develop and test a model for using circus practice as a way to build protective factors in children and young people who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing adversity and trauma.

Women’s Health Matters supports women and girls from Leeds’ most disadvantaged communities who have unequal access to health and support services due to poverty, ethnicity, disability or traumatic personal experience.

Women’s Health Matters plan to use the grant to increase the hours of the Playworker to enable her to provide more in-depth, whole family support for children and mums for the Growing Together Programme. The playworker will pilot family sessions, working with each mum and her child(ren) to explore parenting challenges that have been identified in group and creche. Given the trauma experienced by the families we support, during these sessions the Playworker runs structured activities to aid child development and build protective factors among children facing adversity. Activities include playing in groups to build pro-social skills, storytelling and reading for speech, communication and emotional development, and crafts to engage fine motor skills.

Reestablish, working in Beeston, Holbeck and Hunslet,  empower young people  to discover their potential and positively improve their lives, whilst enhancing the lives of others. Reestablish plan to use this funding to ensuring that what they are offering as a charity becomes more accessible to minority ethnic families within their community as they grow, ensuring an increased sense of acceptance and belonging for all, safe spaces in which to feel heard, seen; to develop emotional literacy, fitness, creativity, social interaction and confidence. Reestablish are also planning to fund 6 young leaders to run a community voice project for their new Loft space based in Holbeck. The young leaders will be asking local young people and their families what they want to see in the loft; what sessions would they benefit from having access to; best times for engagement; what would help to break down barriers for our local ethnic minority families.

St Luke’s CARES has a track record of providing a variety of community projects to meet the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people, unemployed people, elderly people and families living in poverty within inner South Leeds. St Luke’s Cares have two youth projects working with local young people aged 11-18, The Shine Project working with girls aged 11-18 in the LS10/LS11 area through work with local secondary schools, mentoring, youth clubs, crisis support work and detached/sports sessions and RISE working with at risk boys aged 11-18 in the local area through mentoring, schools works, youth clubs and sports outreach. St Luke’s Care’s are looking to use the funding to enhance their current offer by increasing support for more girls from ethnic minoritised communities and allocating time for the youth work manager to time to conduct a 360-degree quality review of the current process in place to improve service delivery. Applying a cultural sensitivity lens, the review will focus on policy and practice, consultation with cross-sector organisations and reflection on areas including, contextual safeguarding, Trauma-informed practice, youth work approaches, quality assessment frameworks, and impact measurement.

Complete Women CIC is a not for profit, voluntary organisation originally founded in 2009 and incorporated in 2018 by a small group of migrant women as an effort to reduce isolation and share knowledge to aid integration into a new unfamiliar culture. Complete Woman CIC activities provide benefit to women from deprived and marginalised communities through practical and workable solutions that make a difference in solving the pressing challenges that women and families face today. Complete Woman CIC will be using the funding to build upon their existing family engagement programme which includes monthly family engagement sessions covering a range of topics including Effective communication, Family bonds, Learning, Re-learning and unlearning cultural dynamics. They are also looking to cover Supportive parenting for challenging behaviours, teenagers, including approaches to single parent families. The sessions will also address grief and loss for families during and after divorce and healthy approaches to blended families. The funding is also looking to increase support and development for staff and volunteers within the organisation.

Trauma Informed Work in Communities: Learning Briefings

Peer learning from the Trauma Informed Work in the Communities Grants.

Learning Briefing 1 – July 2023: Looking at applying a trauma informed approach to staff wellbeing from the start of an employees journey, with an organisation, to the end.

Learning Briefing 2 – August 2023: This short report is based on the reflections of 5 different Trauma Informed Communities projects from the Trauma Informed Work in the Communities Fund. The peers discussed who the learning would be most effective for and what was the priority around the learning; what taking a trauma informed approach means to their organisation; the enablers and barriers to taking a trauma informed approach.

Learning Briefing 3 – September 2023: This short report is based on the reflections of 6 different Trauma Informed Communities projects from the Trauma Informed Work in the Communities Fund. The peers were asked to reflect on an exercise taken from Karen Treisman’s, A Treasure Box for Creating Trauma Informed Organisations’ resource and the exercise was “Steps to reflect on different aspects of the work & of the organisation from a trauma informed lens.” The group were asked to zoom in on an aspect of their work. The group thought about what might facilitate, hinder, increase, decrease people’s trust and safety and considered both emotional, relational and also physical safety. (Treisman 199) These discussions have been organised, where possible, into the trauma informed principles as a guide.

Download (Google Docs published to the web)

Resources and Support

Compassionate Leeds: Trauma-Informed Practice Information Hub

A place for all who work with children, young people and families in Leeds to find out more about compassionate and trauma-informed practice. You will discover ideas, resources and support to develop a trauma-informed approach within your work. Whatever your role and whatever organisation you work within you can play an important part in helping to overcome the impact of adversity and trauma in the lives of young people in Leeds.

Compassionate Leeds: Trauma-Informed Practice Information Hub – MindMate


MindMate Leeds has information about the different ways children and young people in the city can get support with their mental health and wellbeing.

The website is an information hub that includes:

  • Free and accredited services available in Leeds
  • Advice and information on a range of mental health issues
  • Stories and experiences of young people and their mental health
  • Guidance for self-care and where necessary, self-referral
MindMate logo


MindWell is the mental health website for people in Leeds.

It provides quick and easy to access information about mental health for adults in Leeds. This include individuals looking for support as well GPs, employers and other professionals. It brings together information from the NHS, Leeds City Council and the third sector into a single ‘go to’ place.

MindWell Logo With Strapline that reads Mental health information for everyone in Leeds.