Barnardos Calls for a Trauma Informed Approach for Families fleeing Ukraine 

A trauma informed approach is required at the heart of planning for meeting the immediate, medium and long-term needs of the children arriving into Ireland.

Posted on Friday 29 April 2022 in Press Releases

29 April 2022. Barnardos children’s charity is urging the Government to develop a trauma informed response to support the short, medium and long term needs and wellbeing of children and families forced to flee Ukraine.   

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: “Essential services identified to meet the needs of these families must take into consideration the significant trauma of fleeing war, death of a family member or parent, being forced to leave their homes and families, enduring a challenging journey and entering a new country without speaking the language. Many may be experiencing toxic stress, be in a state of fight or flight, and be hyper sensitive to their surroundings – their environment, housing, to sounds and touch. 

“The immediate response and commitment from the Government to welcome Ukrainian families is to be commended, as is the fast acting impressive response of voluntary organisations – these actions will guarantee the safety of thousands of children.  However, as children and families settle in to Ireland it is vital that their supports take into account the trauma they have been through and their needs longer term – and this includes a long term housing plan. 

“There is a risk of re traumatizing these families unless there is an appropriate local and national response. We are urging the Government to promote and deliver a national trauma informed response and for training to be provided for agencies, host families, housing teams, early years services, schools and local communities so that all services working with these families can provide compassionate and considered supports that take into account the trauma they have experienced.” 

Barnardos response to support the wellbeing of families from Ukraine includes: 

  • Parents: Supporting parents to talk to their children about war – How to talk to Children about War (
  • Breath Body Mind Programme: Barnardos is reaching out to hotels and other facilities where large numbers of Ukrainian refugees are being housed to offer our Breath Body Mind (BBM) programme. This programme has been shown to be particularly helpful for those who have experienced trauma. The programme developers have found benefits to offering this intervention to survivors of disasters and war (9/11 World Trade Center attacks, Haiti earthquake, genocide in Rwanda, and Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh). Our wellbeing workers will provide this service across the country as needed. 

Training and Webinars

  • Early Years Services: Webinar with guidance for early years educators to support children from Ukraine – Supporting the Wellbeing of Children from Ukraine | ... ( and written resources for early years educators ELC Support Resources | Barnardos Barnardos is also delivering training to the staff of Better Start, City & County Childcare Committees and Voluntary Childcare Organisations. 
  • Schools: Advise schools on how to support the wellbeing of children by supporting them to a place of safety which will allow children to regulate their emotions, learn, and make friends.  There is a focus on the importance of minimising sensory triggers, supporting a predictable routine, and support with language barriers.   
  • Staff: working with Ukrainian refugees in Dublin Airport and City West Assessment Centre – Barnardos is developing training with The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
  • Bereavement: Barnardos Bereavement Service is providing training to hotel staff housing Ukranian families who have been bereaved.  Barnardos Bereavement Helpline is open Monday – Thursday 10am-12pm on 01 4732110 
  • Family Support: Barnardos is proactively exploring how we can best respond to the immediate and longer term needs of Ukrainian children and parents arriving into Ireland. We are liaising with colleagues in Tusla and CYPSC who are coordinating the interagency service response. 
  • Post Adoption: The Post Adoption team are offering additional support to families with children adopted from Ukraine and Russia 



Notes to Editor: Barnardos officially adopted a trauma informed approach for all its services in 2019 - Strategy | Barnardos 

About Barnardos: Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Because childhood lasts a lifetime  

For further information, please contact:   Barnardos Press Office: 01 7080442 / 086 0445966