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The Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service is launching a series of animations, co-created with children and young people from the North Kensington Community.

These are aimed at helping children and young people understand trauma – how symptoms can result in changes to ‘usual’ behaviour following a traumatic event.

This set of age-appropriate animations support conversation and discussion about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with children as young as eight.

It has an application everywhere; a study published in Lancet Psychiatry found that 31 percent of young people have had a traumatic experience during childhood, and trauma can have a huge impact on later psychological wellbeing.

The animations were created after focus groups with young people, Grenfell NHS staff and The FRED Company.

Khadija Elamrani and Shaheed Mrimou, both aged 16, are Young NHS Grenfell Ambassadors who took part in the animations project. They shared their hopes for how the animations could be used to help other young people.

 “The animations project was really fun. I think if you give young people an animation about trauma they will enjoy it and learn more than from something written down,” said Khadija.

Shaheed said: “What I enjoyed about the project was that I got to put my feelings into the character. I think animations can be helpful for young people to learn about trauma, as young people don’t always like to read but a cartoon can be quick and help them to understand.”

Engaging and giving young people a voice

Sara Northey, Clinical Lead for Children & Young People in the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service co-facilitated the animation workshops. She said:

“Animations can be a great way to engage children and young people in conversations and therapeutic work about trauma, and we hope people will find them helpful. We were hugely impressed with the creativity and energy of the children and young people who developed these animations, and are very grateful to them and all the NHS creative arts therapists, community engagement practitioners, Amell Elguenuni, Farah Amaioua, Nadiya Al-Jamali and Abby Hubbard; as well as the North Kensington community organisations who played such a crucial role in the project.”

Jai Shree Adhyaru, Service Manager, Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service for Children & Young People explained how the project came about.

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, a group of NHS staff working on the initial response came together with a creative company FRED to think about how to develop resources in collaboration with children and young people affected by the fire. Members of the team worked alongside several community partners including The Venture Centre, Making Communities Work and Grow (MCWG), Dale Boxing Club, St Quintin’s Centre, and The Curve, as well as with young people who had received therapeutic support from our service.”

The project was managed using a “child-centred approach” – informed by the work of CUIDAR, an international project that aims to develop the resilience of children, young people and societies following disasters.

“We found that learning from the experiences of other traumatic events and hearing about how children often were left out in decision making and solution finding, inspired us to work in a manner that focused on giving young people a voice and enabling them to support each other,” said Ross O’Brien, Associate Director of Innovation and Technology.

Rosie Collins, Creative Director of FRED said that “the resources can be used by children, young people, families as well as professionals to learn about how trauma symptoms manifest in this age group.

Sam’s Story

This two-part animation can be used in trauma psychoeducation work. Part 1 describes a traumatic event witnessed by Sam, and Part 2 describes the impact on Sam as well as other people in his family. This resource can help younger children to understand what a traumatic event is and what symptoms they might experience.
Story written by the Grenfell NHS Children & Young People’s Team.

Sara’s Story

This animation, created with the Young Grenfell Group, describes what Sara’s friends noticed when her behaviour started to change and how she eventually began to talk to her friends about what she was going through. This is a resource that might be helpful to adolescents.

Ashleigh’s Story

Ashleigh’s Story was developed with children at the Venture Centre. Part 1 describes the impact on Ashleigh after experiencing ‘an awful thing’ and how her family tried to support her. In Part 2, Ashleigh talks about her worries about her first therapy session, what the work with her therapist looked like and what Ashleigh found helpful.