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The Trauma Service was set up to offer more help for those children and young people who had experienced a death of someone they knew in a traumatic way, like murder, suicide or other sudden death. In situations like this they may show signs that they are not going through the usual feelings of sadness and grief but may have extra problems that might suggest a bigger problem which is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  We aim, through our work with young people, to help them come to terms with the events that have happened and to reduce any symptoms they might have.

The Trauma Service is also able to support some children in Luton Borough who might have experienced or witnessed other distressing events, including sexual abuse and domestic violence. Often events like these can leave children with upsetting memories that seem to play over and over in their minds and can cause changes in mood, behavioural problems, anxiety, and disturb their sleep with nightmares. We are also working with child refugees or asylum seekers to help them sort out the upsetting events they have experienced as they have fled their home country to come to the UK.

Why do symptoms of trauma last so long?

Scientists are still researching this question but the view at the moment is that when traumas or distressing events occur it disrupts the way our brain processes and stores information. Normal memories are formed when the brain brings together all the information from the senses and files it away in our memory. This is similar to the coloured memory balls that are used in the animated movie “Inside Out”.

When traumatic events happen this normal process (or way of doing things) gets disrupted. At these times our body and brain reacts to keep us safe and the things we see, hear, taste, touch and smell, that would normally make the memory, are saved in another part of the brain but not put together as a complete memory. Having bits of the traumatic memory floating around is a bit like having a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing.

As the memory is not complete it cannot be stored away with other memories and it keeps popping back into our thoughts. This is a bit like having a brain indigestion and the thoughts are the burps!

The big problem is that we don’t like thinking about these incomplete memories because they are made up of things that make us feel bad, so we keep pushing them out of our head. By doing this they never get made into proper memories (we never complete the jigsaw). When we work on memories like this we find ways to help you put all the pieces together, without getting too upset. When this is done the memories get stored away with all the others. We can’t erase them forever but we can make them more like normal memories for the brain to save in the right place, that way they don’t keep coming back to make you feel bad.


CHUMS Child Bereavement Service already supports many children and young people who have been traumatically bereaved. Not all of them will require specialist trauma-focused intervention. Referrals for traumatically bereaved children should be made to the CHUMS Bereavement Service through the normal route. A decision will then be made by CHUMS practitioners as to whether the young person is appropriate for the specialist trauma service.

Referrals for non-bereavement trauma can be made directly via our Trauma Service. We would usually then get in contact to discuss the best way to support you.


The Trauma Service aims to deliver the most effective treatment based on the available clinical and research evidence.  We continually monitor and evaluate the service we provide and as part of our work we often engage in research to ensure our methods and approaches are beneficial to our service users.  This would only be undertaken with the consent of the client.