A big thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us this year. We have made a great deal of progress. So many survivors have come forward and spoken to us about their childhoods in the ‘care’ of Islington Council.
Many thanks to Sue who designed our card. It has been tweeted and emailed far and wide and found its way to survivor websites.
This has been a difficult process at times and we are learning how to go about it more efficiently. Some survivors have got reasonable social work records which reflect their time in the children’s homes and foster homes, but others have only received a few pages with massive gaps covering many years in numbers of children’s homes. Islington staff are doing their best to help us, but many files have disappeared as was noted by one of the Inquiries in the 90s. We now understand that files were moved around a lot between buildings and some were placed on microfiche. Children’s files may have become hidden within various files in different family names. But even a few pages can provide extra pieces of the jigsaw of what happened to a child and we can try and add more pieces to that jigsaw by looking for health, education and police records and records from homes that were outside the local area. If a survivor speaks of a good relationship with a social worker we are trying to trace them to see if they are still around and willing to help.
We have made some progress with Housing and have gained some acknowledgement of the council’s Duty of Care to survivors who did not access housing when they left care. Although we have had some meetings with the council, we have not managed to identify a specialist counselling and support service. This is an ongoing discussion which we hope to resolve soon.
Collating the evidence
There is a great deal of work to do. Specifically, we need to begin the complex task of collating the information we have received. This is a priority for the New Year and will lead to evidence being clearly presented about former staff, or others, who may still present a risk to children. We now have commitment from Children’s services to follow through our concerns. There were abusers in Islington from the 70s to the mid-90s, and possibly earlier, who targeted children in the care homes. Very few were ever prosecuted or convicted. Those staff and other witnesses who colluded with the abusers or just turned away and failed to report what they knew to be going on, have never been called to account. Senior managers, who were responsible for the service, have not been called to account. We have asked Islington to provide an amnesty to those former staff who did not report abuse at the time, enabling them to come forward to assist our investigations. Some may still work for the council and they should not be silent. Their evidence is very important to us.
Gisburne House: CALL for EVIDENCE
On 17th November, four of us went to see Councillor Richard Watts and asked him to set up an Inquiry into the abuse of children in Gisburne House children’s home, Watford. We have received a few accounts, from both survivors and former staff, relating to this home which closed in the 90s and has now been demolished. We are calling out for evidence about this home from adults who were placed there as children, their families, former residential/ children’s home/teaching staff and social workers/managers for the children who were placed there. Most children were aged 11-16 years, but we understand that very young disabled children were also placed there. It was for long term placements and included a school unit within the home. Children went from there on many different holidays which are of interest to us. At the moment the council cannot tell us when Gisburne opened and they are trying to find out. If you have photographs from Gisburne House we would like to see them. We have been told there was a documentary made about it – maybe you have a copy. If you can help us with this investigation;
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The White Inquiry 1995
We are trying to locate Kate Hart who wrote the final Inquiry report with Ian White. We would like to speak with her to assist our understanding about that Inquiry.
We are looking for someone to assist us with this WordPress website. It was set up for us and we could do with some guidance as to how to maintain it.
We look forward to meeting many more survivors in 2017, building a stronger ISN network and seeking justice and healing for the survivors of organised and institutional abuse in Islington.