We are soon to be updating our website so bear with us. It will be easier for us to manage. Meanwhile here is a summary of what’s been going on since we last posted in May which now seems a long time ago!
More survivors have come forward – some from foster care, others from boarding schools and children’s homes. We are slowly managing to obtain care files, make phone calls, meet up and take accounts. We have completed a number of timelines which helps us put together the names of staff and children in the homes and other important information. We have now identified 22 Islington children’s homes.
If you have your file but haven’t been in touch with us please help us by coming forward. Also, if you have photographs these can be very helpful to identify children, staff and places such as where children were sent on holiday. We have no doubt that there were networks of abuse in Islington and the files are one important means of collecting evidence even though most files are missing many key documents. Some survivors are on Facebook pages and this is a good way of spreading information about ISN and supporting others in coming forward. Many thanks go to survivors who have been putting up leaflets all over Islington and if anyone wants posters or small cards please get in touch to collect them. Most survivors are coming forward through meeting others and learning about us – so being able to pass on a ‘business’ card is proving really useful.
ISN is now supported by Islington Council Adult Services and survivors have had good help with housing issues. Some survivors have had support from Children’s Services in relation to contact with their children and other family matters. However we still have no counselling scheme in place although there has been much discussion about it. We have also asked for free access to Islington’s sports facilities and haven’t had a response on this as yet.
Since the 6 brilliant editions of the Islington Gazette in May/June – Islington Council have repeated to us their apology for the abuse of children in their care and we have asked them to accept full liability. They appointed a lawyer (QC) who provided advice to the council in relation to the children’s home Inquiries of the 90s and whether or not they needed to be re-opened. The council’s decision will be announced at a Council Executive Meeting in late September. The council has appointed two child protection experts to assist in their investigations and we have met with them.
In July, three of us at ISN made a podcast with the help of Camden Community Radio. It is about 20 minutes and tells you about ISN. Many thanks to Freddie at CCR who got this organised for us and was a joy to work with. The above link takes you to the programme. If you want to make a podcast about your time in Islington’s care -please get in touch with us.
The horror of Gisburne House – a blog is linked here. It includes some of what ISN survivors have been telling us about the abuse that went on there. So far there has been no justice for those who have come forward from this children’s home. We have been given a copy of a documentary from the 80s about Gisburne and it shows the children at a birthday party and playing in the grounds. If you know anyone who was in Gisburne House in Watford Hertfordshire, please ask them to contact us.
We have been trying to work with police in the investigation of crimes against children who were in Islington’s ‘care’. The police officers working with us have kept changing and it hasn’t been easy to start any investigations of alleged abusers or to reach the stage of reporting to the authorities those who present a risk to children. At the moment we are waiting for the decision of a Commander as to whether the Metropolitan Police will set up an Islington historic (non-recent) abuse investigation. Some survivors came to us 18 months ago telling us of crimes against them. Its been a long wait.
The Beeches was a children’s home for disabled children in Surrey used by Islington and Hackney in the 60s and 70s. The Islington Gazette at the time reported a campaign by Islington parents after some children at the Beeches died. If you know any of these parents please ask them to contact ISN.
Beecholme was a children’s home in Surrey which some children from Islington were sent to. Graeme Sergeant, a Beecholme survivor, has set up a survivors group. They are on twitter @beecholme12 and their website is; https://beecholmesurvivors.wixsite.com/website
Graeme is working with Surrey police on an investigation of Beecholme and Wandsworth Council have organised a counselling service for the survivors. Islington survivors of Beecholme please contact Beecholme survivors but also contact us at ISN if you were also in Islington children’s homes or foster placements and also if you are in need of support to obtain your file or receive services.
Shirley Oaks Survivors Association in Lambeth held a protest on 19th July at a council meeting and some of ISN went along in support. There were hundreds of survivors there and the discussion about the redress scheme – and need for an independent panel to adjudicate it – which began 6pm was still going on when we left at 9.30pm.
Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/282fy5w (the money is currently funding the website, survivor expenses and research)