18 Highbury Grove

Address: 18 Highbury Grove, London N5 1HJ

Open: 1979 – 2005

Number of ISN survivors that lived at Highbury Grove children’s home16: 6 men and 10 women

Numbers of children named by survivors as living at Highbury Grove children’s home: 30: 11 boys and 19 girls (aged 16 -18 years)

Residential staff  named by survivors and former staff as working in Highbury Grove children’s home: 15: 9 women and 6 men

Life at 18 Highbury Grove children’s home

The house consisted of 7 self contained flats for 10 children. There were 5 members of staff with one on duty at any time. A flat is described on one file as having a kitchen and bathroom and two girls shared it – each with their own bedroom. It was a half way house between a residential children’s home and independence. ISN have learnt of at least 3 young women who were there with their newborn babies. The home was mainly for over 16s and some remained until after their 18th birthday.

File records describe a harsh approach to children trying to make their way into adulthood – most having been in abusive children’s homes prior to this placement. They were threatened with legal proceedings and eviction if they did not get a job and could not pay the rent. One boy was in court for stealing a packet of cigarettes and was told he would be evicted as he could find somewhere with ‘ friends and family.’ Survivors told ISN of staff with strange backgrounds for working in a children’s home – one an electrician another a bus driver.

Some of the women survivors talk of two investigations into one member of staff in 1987 and 1991. One remembers going to Highbury House and being interviewed with 5 other girls by social services managers.

The 90s allegations about this home

‘I saw naked men in the bathrooms’ ISN Survivor

‘One of the girls was on the game – I told my social worker.’ ISN Survivor

One member of staff wrote on 5.8.91 a report to the Assistant Director of Social Services entitled, ‘Report on Runaways from Gisburne House and 75a Mildmay Park to 18 Highbury Grove.’ He said he had no response. This report detailed a number of children who were coming to Highbury Grove at night from other homes including one as young as 8 years old. He would call the other homes and request they collected the children but one waking night staff could not manage the extent of the abuse in this home at the time with men coming in via the fire escapes.

Community Care 15.10.92

“Social worker Neville Mighty was deputy superintendent of Islington’s then unit at 18 Highbury Grove, where pimps slept overnight. His boss claimed such men were simply ‘boyfriends’ and said Mighty was a prude to repress the children’s sexuality.

Mighty, who had received death threats, had named the relative in a report pleading with Islington’s then director of children’s services, Lyn Cusack, for help.

Ms Cusack, married to a senior policeman, did nothing save threaten disciplinary action because Mighty was ‘rude’. Eventually, in June 1992, Mighty was sacked.

Liz Davies, the senior Islington social worker who encouraged Mighty to go public, said: ‘We got too close. There were too many powerful people involved. Child sex, pornography and sadism are extremely lucrative industries.’”

Revealed: How a close male relative of Baby P is linked to a big paedophile network, Daily Mail, 16.11.2008

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