Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma: making policy reality
For our younger generation, housing is undoubtedly one of the most difficult challenges they face.
Wales has less post-2000 housing than other parts of the UK, and with Wales’ population projected to increase by around 5% over the next 20 years, that demand and pressures is set to worsen.
The research by Willetts’ intergenerational commission at the Resolution Foundation think tank reveals that today’s 30-year-olds are only half as likely to own their own home as their baby boomer parents. They are four times as likely to rent privately than two generations ago, a sector which has the worst record for housing quality, the report claims. A young family today has to save for 19 years on average to afford a typical deposit compared with three years for the previous generation.
We are raising a generation that will live in a completely different reality to the one we know now; increasing sophisticated technology and automation, an increasing and ageing population and climate change. If the statistics are frightening now, what about the future?
These challenges are why, within our office, we have identified housing stock, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as two of our six policy priority areas for focus in terms of providing support and advice, as well as constructive challenge to public bodies. Because the failure to do so would be a complete abandonment to construct an alternative for our future generations.
For me, focusing on ACEs is the sustainable development principle in action. It means taking a preventative, long-term approach to the way our public services work in Wales. It requires genuine collaboration, integration and involvement to understand the realities of the lives led by those affected by these issues. It is after all about the individual, not the service user, the client, or the customer.
If we are to put an end to these intergenerational cycles of abuse, poor health, mental health issues and trauma, poor life-decisions and unemployment, we need to ensure we are in this for the long-term.
Previous Public Health Wales research has shown that eradicating ACEs could ultimately result in over 55,000 fewer users of heroin or crack cocaine, for example.
This has further implications for our criminal justice system, when a previous study showed that over 80% of all criminal activity in Britain is attributed to people who had behavioural problems in childhood or adolescence.
It is estimated that late intervention services aimed at children and young people in Wales end up costing £16.6 billion. But of course, when we’re talking about prevention, it is vital that prevention is not just about early years and childhood. This approach is necessary for all stages of life, throughout the criminal justice system, and all aspects of healthcare.
This is about forming our adults of the future and whether they will be able to contribute to society or whether they will be adults for whom our public services will need to be directing a whole range of recourses from the police, social services and of course our NHS.
These are not different issues and different budgets, these are the same issues and they should therefore be everybody’s problem.
Acting on ACEs today is a long-term, investment in a more resilient, healthier, more equal and prosperous Wales for our future generations.