Copthorne

Address: 16-18 Village Road, Enfield, Middlesex

Open: 1966 – 15.2.77. Children moved to New Park House (building demolished)

‘The boys were not bathed, they had no clean clothes and not enough to eat.’ Parent complaint cited on social work record

‘Kids crying and screaming.’ ISN Survivor

‘I lived in fear of sexual and violent assaults every day.’ ISN Survivor

‘There was extreme violence from staff.’ ISN Survivor

‘I was punched in the ribs.’ ISN Survivor

‘I was kicked in the head’ ISN Survivor

I was beaten with a bat repeatedly.’ ISN Survivor

‘At 18 I wasn’t aware enough or assertive enough to voice my concerns in a meaningful way.’ Former staff

One former member of staff reported her concerns about ill-treatment of children at the home to Islington Social Services and received a negative and unhelpful response and decided to leave.

Council Minutes, 1966
Council minutes 26.3.77

Number of ISN survivors that lived at Village Rd children’s home 3 : 1 woman and 2 men

Numbers of children named by ISN survivors as living at Village Rd children’s home : 14: 4 girls and 10 boys

Numbers of children named in council documents as living in Village Rd children’s home : When it opened it was for 16 children and as it closed 17 children moved to New Park House. In 1973 the Islington Gazette and Islington Council news coverage reported the opening of the swimming pool at Copthorne for 15 children age between 3 and 16 years. A witness describes the home in the early 70s as accommodating at times 30-40 children.

Residential staff named by ISN survivors as working at Village Rd children’s home: 18: 6 women and 12 men (1973-76)

‘I was only 18 when I worked there – there were many young staff who only stayed a few weeks.’ Former residential worker 1969

‘I felt very lonely while living there… I felt uneasy about the people in charge.’ Former staff

Life at Copthorne children’s home

‘This was a 4 storey house. The children had dormitories – some big some small, on one side and the staff flats were separate. It was a big mansion house on a street with other big mansions and had big grounds. One dorm had 10 beds and some had 3 or 4 beds. The kitchen and dining room were massive with 6-10 tables and 10 chairs at each table.’ (Witness about the years 1971-3).

ISN have learnt about concerns of children being called out of the dormitory by staff when they were in bed and they would come back later on – one child, when they returned to the dorm, was very unhappy. Also there is mention of a ‘party’ in the staff quarters of about 6 men and women and 10 children. Some of the children visited members of staff at the staff’s family home in the north of England.

‘Drugs were used by staff and wigi [ouija] boards were used in bedrooms with staff and there was sex with staff in the home and discarded condoms.’ ISN Survivor

‘Children were high on evo stick glue in crisp packets which they had been sniffing and discarded and the smell was all around the home.’ ISN Survivor

A survivor, (similar to the account from a survivor of Elwood St and from Shirley Oaks survivors), speaks of trips to Epping Forest at night to, ‘make my way through the woods to the centre having to walk in the woods at night and through a cemetery feeling in fear for my life and feeling I would get killed.‘ ISN Survivor

As in other homes, siblings were separated and children who ran away were sent to secure units and sedated. Survivors speak of locking themselves in their rooms to try and keep safe and one described staff as ‘rude, ignorant and uneducated.’ Particular members of staff are repeatedly and graphically described by ISN survivors as extremely violent and some staff went on to work at New Park House in Cuffley when the home moved. ISN are not aware of any prosecutions of the abusers from this home.

Islington Gazette, 13th July 1973