More about the Adverse Childhood Experiences HIT

What is an Adverse Childhood Experience?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are negative experiences in early life and childhood that can have an impact on health and wellbeing throughout life.

There is no universally agreed definition of an adverse childhood experience, but studies addressing the issue have mostly converged on a similar set of experiences:

  • direct harms: physical, emotional or verbal abuse and physical or emotional neglect
  • indirect harms (‘household challenges’): domestic violence, parental drug/alcohol misuse, parental criminal behaviour/ incarceration, parental mental illness and bereavement (linked to death or separation)
Ongoing research continues to add to an understanding of ACEs and associated risk factors, this includes the significance of community environments like poverty and poor quality housing and how these can affect resilience and the impact of ACEs.

There is nothing inevitable about ACEs, they are risk factors, and research has identified a number of protective factors that can help to increase resilience across the life course and reduce their impact.


The ACE HIT is a collaboration across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The ACE HIT will be:

  • raising awareness and understanding of ACEs
  • contributing to the developing evidence base on ACEs
  • developing policy and practice approaches to prevent ACEs and mitigate their impacts
  • building a ‘case for change’ which will set out how we can work differently together so that we can prevent ACEs and improve health and wellbeing.

For Bristol-specific information on policies and guidance on adverse childhood experiences and trauma informed practice, please visit the Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership website.

Steering group

The HIT has a Steering Group who oversee five workstreams. Partners include:
  • Bristol City Council (Public Health, Children and Family Services and Adult Social Care)
  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group
  • University of Bristol
  • Avon and Somerset Police
  • School Phase Representatives, including Early Years
  • South Gloucestershire Council and ACE Partnership
  • North Somerset Council
  • Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector
  • Public Health England South West
  • University of the West of England
  • Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • GP Representation
  • Golden Key


  • Research and Evaluation
  • Knowledge and Skills
  • Education (i.e. nurseries, schools and academies)
  • Strategic Planning and Commissioning
  • Communication and Knowledge Transfer
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