35 Solna Road

Address: 35 Solna Road, Winchmore Hill, London N21
Open: 1978-1987

Ms X was manager of 103 Park Avenue from 1969 (Deputy Superintendent). She became Superintendent in 1975 after the retirement of Miss Rowlands. In 1978 the home closed and in April 1978 Ms X took over the care of 5 children from the home.

‘Child placed at Solna road after an extraordinary decision by Day and Residential Management in LBI SSD. The use of 35 Solna Rd as a nursery had been discontinued and the property had been little used except for occasional occupation by staff working in LBI Enfield children’s homes. Ms X gave up her employment with LBI to become a professional foster mother taking on care of 4 or 5 children.’ Critical view of this decision by field social worker (1978)

3 boys and 2 girls. The youngest boy was disabled. Solna Road closed in 1987 and then Ms X unusually took one of the children with her to live with her in the north of England where he stayed until 2012. Solna Road was two houses which had previously been the Islington nursery Holmleigh. Ms X and the 5 children lived in one of the houses. 3 children had left by 1981.

‘3 children did not settle and had to move.’ Social work record (1981).

Ms X was not in contact with the local community and had no family nearby.’ Social work record 1980

Clifford Heap chaired a meeting on 24.11.77 where he proposed Ms X to be a professional foster carer for 5 of the Park Avenue children. The children would have one social worker based centrally at Islington Park Street offices instead of each having their own social worker from their local neighbourhoods. This proposal was explicitly referred to a number of times in records as an ‘experiment.’ Some social workers asked how Ms X would manage the care of this specific group of children which included adolescents – on her own.

‘Ms X would be on her own caring for 5 children – 4 adolescents and one mentally handicapped – quite a handful. But she has known them all a long time.’ Social work record (1978).

‘This is an abnormal foster home as Ms X is a single person with 4 foster children. There is a lack of coordination and ignorance about the other children.’ Social work record

In 1980 this placement was described at a social work meeting as ‘a special foster home’ where the financial arrangements had not been worked out. It was said that the property was not prepared when Ms X moved in with the children and there were building works going on which was unsettling for the children. The fostering team responded to social worker’s questions about the placement assessment process and were informed that although two references had been obtained the Department had made the decision in advance wishing to close the children’s home she was running. One of the male residential staff from Park Avenue moved in for 3 months as a guest of Ms X .

‘Ms X is strongly supported by a young houseparent from Park Avenue who is 22 years old.’ Social work record (1978).

Number of ISN survivors that lived at Solna Road children’s home. 2

Numbers of children living at Solna Road children’s home: 5 and from 1981 just 2

Residential staff : 1 woman

Life at this children’s home

Children were expected to see this home as a family. One boy is cited as calling Ms X ‘Mum’ and knowing he had ‘two Mums now.’ The children were told they were being taken out of care. One thought they would be adopted. Another said they had no explanation of why they were moved.

This home is consistently described negatively by survivors. They speak of having to do the cooking and cleaning and to do most of the care of the youngest child. They describe neglect, emotional and physical abuse.

Although social workers expressed concerns at various times, there seems to have been little managerial oversight of what was really going on in this establishment and little understanding of what kind of ‘experiment’ this was.

Council minutes, 29.03.1977
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