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This conference will open with Dr Margot Sunderland exploring just how vital it is for every vulnerable child and teenager to have at least one emotionally-available adult (EAA) in their lives (a knight). Knights are people who deeply value and encourage the child, who tirelessly understand, empathically listen and help the child make sense of their painful life events. When a parent can’t do this, it’s vital that someone else does. Margot will discuss how science shows that EAAs have a profound effect on children and young people who have suffered multiple traumas (e.g. parental separation, parent with mental health problems, witnessed domestic violence, multiple school moves). The EAA can interrupt the trajectory from severe childhood adversity to long term physical and mental ill-health, shortened lives and health-harming behaviours. In fact, evidence shows that EAAs impact positively on the immune system, the endocrine system and improve health and wellbeing at all levels; body, brain and mind.
For the second part of the conference you will need tissues! We are thrilled to have three heroes who have all experienced the worst possible childhood adversity and who did not have an EAA. As a result, all went on to experience terrible suffering; entering worlds of gun crime, drug addiction, homeliness, multiple prison sentences. But then, albeit, they all found an EAA and are now EAAs for others. These heroes will discuss their lives in the context of the power of the EAA and what the EAA needs to do, when and how (in school or community) to ensure the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable children, teenagers and adults in society.
Sinéad was homeless after growing up in foster care before receiving a scholarship to train as a lawyer. Two years ago, she launched Compliments of The House to provide high-quality food leftover from restaurants which otherwise would go to waste. After Covid-19 forced their communal hub to close, Sinead decided to temporarily transform the charity into a delivery service, with groceries bought from supermarkets, in order to still provide support for those who are in need, vulnerable and self-isolating. Sinead has also received recognition and an award from the Prime Minister for her COVID-19 response and was named as one of 10 inspirational women making a difference in London by The Evening Standard.
James is a Development Officer within the Violence Reduction Unit and an Advisor to Community Justice Scotland. James has previously worked on various VRU projects Mentoring people with convictions seeking to re-create their lives and supporting change. James advocates for change and awareness in how we address the hidden cost of untreated trauma and (ACE’s) in communities. Previously he has worked with a leading Children’s charity on a diversion programme with young people on the cusp of organised crime. James has both professional and personal experience of navigating the care and criminal justice system.
Mark is a rehabilitated offender, former drug user and the founder of the charity User Voice. Mark’s story embodies the transformative change which User Voice strives to achieve. Mark’s direct contact with the criminal justice system, and later as an employer of ex-offenders and consultant for government and other charities, left him convinced of the urgent need to create a model of service user engagement that is fair for all involved. His principal aim was to foster dialogue between service providers and service users that is mutually beneficial, aiding rehabilitation and recovery and results in better and more cost-effective services. Mark is bestselling author of Wasted which documents his descent into the depths of addiction and criminality. Homeless, hooked on heroin and crack, noone, least of all Mark, believed he would survive. And yet, astonishingly, Mark somehow pulled himself through.
The best opportunities to overcome offending are found in unlikely places. But firstly, if you can understand just how toxic the revolving door to re-offending is, and can seek out those who share a new belief system, then you can break those corrosive chains. (Tanayah Sam)
Tanayah Sam is living proof that the destructive cycle of re-offending can be broken. His harrowing but uplifting life story shows that no-one is beyond help and that solutions to issues such as gangs, extremism and violent crime can be found. Tanayah runs non-profit organisations Tanayah Sam Associates and One 2 Engage, working with young people in schools and prisons who are part of, or at risk of, joining gang culture, as well as those vulnerable to extremist influences. Tanayah is also an ambassador for Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice. More info about Tanayah Sam: www.tanayahsam.com
CCMH, 2-18 Britannia Row, London N1 8PA, UK