ISN News

‘Relief as survivors are told payment scheme won’t affect their benefits’

Islington Tribune, 5th November 2021

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz: ‘In effect, this safeguards the Support Payment Scheme settlements, so they will not affect entitlement to means-tested benefits for those who apply’

THE government has this week written to the council after months of deliberation, saying benefits claimants will not lose out if they are among the survivors who receive an abuse support scheme payment.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has now decided that payments made from the council scheme will be disregarded in their benefits calculations after survivors feared they would have their money cut.

Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey wrote to Islington Council this week to inform them of the decision after the Tribune contacted the government office about the ongoing issue.

It follows council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz writing to the government in July urging them to come to a decision on this matter.

Donna, who did not want her surname published as she is a survivor of abuse, said: “After the meeting [in October at the Town Hall] I felt quite positive that it was going to be a better outcome for more people.”

She said she will apply for the scheme even though she is not sure if her claim will be successful as she comes under the category of “neglect”.

Donna added: “I will support anybody who needs support, regardless of whether I am successful in my scheme.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We have already made the decision that payments from the Islington scheme will be disregarded in full, and will not affect those receiving Universal Credit or other means-tested benefits because of these payments.”

Cllr Comer-Schwartz said: “I’m pleased that the Secretary of State has finally made the right decision, months after I wrote to the Minister for Welfare Delivery asking him to resolve this pressing issue which we have pursued for two years.

“We have had extensive correspondence and a face-to-face meeting with the Department for Work and Pensions in a bid to push them to make this critically important decision. In effect, this safeguards the Support Payment Scheme settlements, so they will not affect entitlement to means-tested benefits for those who apply.

“This uncertainty must have weighed heavily on the minds of many survivors and care-experienced adults, and I’m pleased that our close working relationship with local survivors’ groups means we could finally cut through the government’s red tape so the Support Payment Scheme can work as intended.

“Our lobbying, with Lambeth Council, means this decision will be enshrined in law in line with other similar schemes, removing a critical worry for some of society’s most vulnerable people.”

‘Abuse is abuse… money should go to the bereaved’

A WOMAN who grew up in an abusive foster care home with her sister says their childhood contributed to her sibling’s death.

The council support payment scheme was announced in October following a six-month consultation but does not include the families of survivors who died after 2017 and also excludes those who endured abuse in foster care.

Lisa, who did not want to give her surname, said: “I have never been open about my past ever, ever. This is the first time I have ever spoken about it. I am doing it on behalf of my blessed sister.

“She passed away last year but had been severely abused. She ended up with very serious mental health issues and ended up being found on the floor dead last year. Everything about her life, her past, is what contributed to her death.

“She now has a child – I have a nephew who is in care – he might now go through what she went through. Hopefully not but he is going to grow up without a mum or a family. Why shouldn’t her money go to him.”

Lisa’s sister died age 49. It would have been her birthday next week. They went into foster care in 1972. Lisa’s sister came out of foster care in 1982.

Lisa said: “I just don’t get it – abuse is abuse, it doesn’t matter who by, or if it was foster care, like we were, where we were abused over many years. She died because of a result of her childhood in care. Whether in foster care or residential care, the abuse was rife. My sister refused to speak with me for the best part of seven or eight years because of her own grief. I don’t think she felt worthy of having anyone around her.

“I grew up with my sister. She was not like that, life made her like that.

“We lived like slaved black kids in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with what I would describe now as a very abusive family.

“I got chucked out at 16 with no family and had to find my own way in life.

“I didn’t know about Islington Survivors Network until my sister died. It is something us survivors keep close to our chest.

“I heard my sister was found on the floor dead with the papers scattered all over her. She could have been anyone she wanted to be.

“She was the most gorgeous and beautiful person but she was so troubled with her past that she couldn’t move forward ever. Everything about her was stunning. To watch her demise into this person you don’t recognise is worse than anything. That kind of abuse that troubles a human being until you don’t want to be here. You can’t put a date on it. It is insulting.”

She added: “Just because we [survivors of abuse] are up and can talk and can dress, doesn’t mean we are surviving, it means we are following the path of life. You can die slowly and that’s what my sister did.”


Care homes abuse scandal: ‘Was my son’s life worthless?’

Islington Tribune, 5th November 2021

A MOTHER whose son was abused during the Islington care homes scandal and died last year says the fact his case was excluded from the council’s support payouts for survivors makes lives seem “worthless”.

The Town Hall launched the scheme after apologising for the widescale abuse by staff from 1966 to 1995 – described as the “worst chapter” in the borough’s history. Cash sums are being paid to survivors but no money has been set aside for the families of victims who have died since the discovery of the abuse.

The law firm Leigh Day is representing a number of people who were abused as children while in the care of Islington Council and said it welcomes an increase of the pay award from the £8,000 to the £10,000.

This had been suggested by the Islington Survivors Network during the consultation. The council also agreed payments for cases of peer-on-peer abuse and neglect.

But no money will go to families of abuse survivors who have died in the years since 2017 when the scheme was first proposed.

And it will also exclude many who were subjected to abuse under other sections of ­Islington’s care, such as children in foster care and those whose experience occurred outside of the date ranges specified by the council.

Jacquie Tyrrell-Holt, mother of abuse survivor Tony who died last year, said: “It is the injustice of not having a voice because obviously they are not around. The small numbers involved, they are not getting any justice. They are left to feel their lives are worthless.”

There are believed to be eight families who have had survivors of abuse die since 2017.

Ms Tyrrell-Holt said: “It is dreadful and they shouldn’t be excluded. My son, his life was ruined. He had one child who is now 36 and ­Terry’s life was ruined, too, because Tony wasn’t around to bring him up.

“He took to drugs, he took to alcohol. He lived a homeless existence for a while and couldn’t make a marriage work.

“It was nothing to do with family life because all my other children are settled.”

Ms Tyrrell-Holt said Tony went into care in 1973 when he was ­seven years old as a ­temporary measure after two of her children died.

She said: “I had a breakdown and needed a bit of help. It was supposed to be a couple of weeks and I was told by the management there he was a disturbed child, he tried to set fire to a ­dormitory and had to stay there. He stayed there for a year

“The thing about it was Tony – although he wasn’t an angel, he was a disrupted child, these days might be diagnosed with ADHD – he never ever lied and he swore to me that he never tried to set fire to anything.

“It was just something I was told and now I wonder – hindsight is a great thing – I wonder if they said it to keep him there because they saw the potential.

“We only spoke about it once because Tony was ashamed because he thought it was his fault.

“The reason I contacted the survivors’ network was I told Tony to do it initially but he couldn’t face it, but unfortunately he died in the meantime.

“I feel his son who had just started to build a relationship with him, he should be the person to benefit if there is any benefit of it, because he missed out on so much growing up.”

Tony had started to build a relationship with his son in the past six years but Tony died on March 14 last year at the age of 53. It would have been his birthday today (Friday). A funeral was held during the lockdown with just 10 family ­members present.

Ms Tyrrell-Holt said: “I went to register his death at Wood Green and I did it through a closed door – they were feeding it through a crack through a door.”

Tony lived in Finsbury Park for the past 10 years and enjoyed going on walks in the park with Terry and visiting his grandchildren.

Ms Tyrrell-Holt said: “It is not hundreds and hundreds. They are talking about eight families who could be left without feeling their child’s life is not totally worthless.”

Alison Millar and Andrew Lord of Leigh Day have represented the Islington Survivors ­Network since 2017.

Ms Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day, said:“This will not ­prevent survivors who may have civil claims for compensation asserting their rights.

“It is disappointing that the significant number of children who suffered abuse in Islington foster placements in particular are excluded from this scheme.

“We also want to hear from the council the mechanics of and timescales for implementation of the scheme and how it will be made accessible to survivors in a way that meets the stated aim of avoiding re-traumatisation.”

She added: “We are pleased that Islington Council is introducing a scheme to provide financial acknowledgment to some survivors of the Islington children’s homes scandal; this complements the existing support and trauma ­services for survivors funded by the council.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, leader of Islington Council, said: “The length of time it has taken to create this very complex scheme is already too much, and we did not want to delay it further.

“I personally have found the delays very frustrating, so I cannot imagine what it is like for people who suffered abuse and have been waiting for the scheme to be created. We wanted to offer a support payment to children’s home survivors as soon as we could.”


‘£10,000 payments for the survivors of abuse scandal’

Islington Tribune, 15th October 2021

SURVIVORS of child abuse in Islington’s care homes will be paid sums of £10,000 as a “support payment”.

Cabinet councillors last night (Thursday) agreed to put aside £16million for the scheme with claimants expected from a period of 30 years.

The payments are aimed to help those affected by the scandal – described as the “worst chapter” in Islington’s history – and will be given to people who were abused by paid staff and volunteers in care homes between 1966 and 1995. Victims suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

The Tribune reported in July how the Islington Survivors Network (ISN), had concerns the council were not listening to their views on the consultation process for the scheme.

But council said it had taken feedback from survivors before forming the proposals.

Thirty-two survivors responded to the consultation, some of whom had been abused by employees and visitors to the care homes at which they lived in as children.

The payment had previously been lined up to be less, with £8,000 the figure in an initial suggestion.

It is expected thousands of survivors could come forward.

Dr Liz Davies from the ISN said: “They’ve [the council] listened a lot to what we have said in our response and they made quite a lot of changes.

“They are thankfully going to engage with us. The Islington Survivors Network is pleased the council will be working with us in terms of the process. It is nice to acknowledge the good things and move forward.”

The scheme is likely to launch next spring and will be run independently of the council.

Dr Davies said some of the group’s concerns had not been resolved, however, including a decision to exclude children who grew up in foster parent homes..

Dr Davies also said since 2017, eight survivors of the abuse have now died.

The ISN asked the council if their families could qualify for compensation, but Islington declined to extend its payment programme.

Islington Council leader Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “Abuse of children in Islington’s care homes was the worst chapter in the council’s history, and we are deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children.”

She added: “We have now consulted on the proposed Support Payment Scheme, which would enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment without having to bring a civil compensation claim.

“The council is extremely grateful to everyone who has taken part in the consultation, especially abuse survivors, Islington Survivors Network, and other support organisations and advocates.”


Leigh Day respond to Islington Council’s announcement of its Support Payment Scheme

4th November 2021

Lawyers representing Islington Survivors Network (ISN) have given a cautious welcome to Islington Borough Council’s announcement of its Support Payment Scheme (SPS) for survivors of abuse in children’s homes.

The abuse team at law firm Leigh Day also represents a number of people who were abused as children whilst in the care of Islington Council. The SPS was announced in mid-October following a six-month consultation in which ISN was fully involved.

The Leigh Day team is pleased to see that some of ISN’s key proposals have been included following ISN’s input.

It welcomes the increase of the pay award from the £8,000 suggested by Islington Council to the £10,000 proposed by ISN during the consultation.

It is also pleased to see that, in response to ISN’s proposal, the SPS will make payments for cases of peer-on-peer abuse and neglect.

However, the Leigh Day team understands that a number of families will be affected by the fact that there will be no payment made for survivors of abuse who have died in the years since 2017 when the SPS was first proposed.

And it shares ISN’s disappointment that the scheme will still exclude many who were subjected to abuse under Islington’s care, for example, children in foster care and those whose experience occurred outside of the date ranges specified by the council.

ISN was established in 2014 and Alison Millar and Andrew Lord of Leigh Day have represented them since 2017. Campaigning by ISN and their members meant that Islington Council previously admitted culpability for the abuse perpetrated against children in its care by children’s home workers and foster carers, and the SPS was later mooted in 2018.

ISN was therefore disappointed that its significant role in the consultation, in which it submitted the views of 84 survivors of abuse in Islington children’s homes and foster care, was not directly acknowledged by Islington Council. Alison’s team shares ISN’s view that Islington Council should have been proud to pay tribute to its specific input instead of referring to just 43 consultation responses.

Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at law firm Leigh Day said:

“We are pleased that Islington Council is introducing a scheme to provide financial acknowledgment to some survivors of the Islington children’s homes scandal; this complements the existing support and trauma services for survivors funded by the Council.

“This will not prevent survivors who may have civil claims for compensation asserting their rights.

“It is disappointing that the significant number of children who suffered abuse in Islington foster placements in particular are excluded from this Scheme. We also wait to hear from the Council the mechanics of and timescales for implementation of the Scheme and how it will be made accessible to survivors in a way that meets the stated aim of avoiding retraumatisation.”

Leigh Day website

Islington Council Statement about Support Payment Scheme

15th October 2021

Islington Council will create Non-Recent Child Abuse Support Payment Scheme for survivors of abuse in children’s homes

Islington Council will set up a support payment scheme for people who suffered abuse while placed in the council’s children’s homes from 1966-1995.

The scheme will enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment of £10,000, without having to bring a civil compensation claim, and is designed to enable a payment more quickly than having to go through the trauma of the lengthy civil compensation process.

Payments will be made through a process that is as straightforward and quick to access as possible, and that minimises the need to re-live past trauma, or the risk of further trauma or harm.

The scheme will form part of the council’s wider support scheme which offers trauma counselling, specialist advice, support and assistance for care, housing, appropriate welfare benefits, access to further education and suitable employment, and support to access care records.

Earlier this year, the council consulted on its proposed scheme, and received 43 responses, from survivors, care-experienced adults affected by abuse, and organisations responding on behalf of groups of survivors.  The council carefully considered all comments and suggestions, and in response made a number of changes to the scheme. 

These include increasing the amount of payment from £8,000 to £10,000; expanding the categories of abuse; and procuring an independent advocacy service to assist an applicant where this is reasonably required.

The support payment scheme is not a compensation or redress scheme; it will sit alongside the existing civil compensation route, not replace it.  It has no bearing on any civil compensation claims that abuse survivors may bring, except that, in order to ensure fairness and compliance with constitutional requirements, a scheme payment would be offset against any later civil compensation claim payment, and any previous civil compensation claim payment would be offset against a scheme payment.

The scheme was approved at Islington Council’s Executive meeting last night (14 October).

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council, said last night: “Abuse of children in Islington’s children’s homes was the worst chapter in this council’s history. Children, placed in our care, were subjected to terrible abuse, which has been deeply traumatic and had a devastating effect on their lives.

“As Leader of Islington Council, I again want to say we’re deeply sorry for the council’s past failures to protect vulnerable children in our care. I offer this heartfelt apology to anyone who has suffered abuse, and who continues to suffer because of it.

“We know that there is nothing that we can do to make amends for the trauma caused, but it is our responsibility as a council to address these past failings, and offer support.

“Payments will be made through a process that is straightforward and quick to access, and that minimises the need to re-live past trauma, or the risk of further trauma or harm.

“I’d like to put on record my heartfelt thanks to all the survivors and care-experienced adults affected by abuse, and organisations representing them, who have made a very valuable contribution to our consultation on this proposed scheme earlier this year.

“Thanks to their responses we have made a significant number of changes to the proposed scheme, including increasing the payment from £8,000 to £10,000, and expanding the categories of abuse.

“Islington Council today is a very different organisation, and protecting children from harm is our top priority. We remain rightly deeply sorry and ashamed for the failings of the past.”

The report approved by Executive is available to read in full.

ISN Statement to Islington Council Executive Meeting: October 14th 2021

ISLINGTON SURVIVORS NETWORK

Survivors of child abuse in Islington children’s homes and foster placements campaigning for justice

Statement to Islington Council Executive Meeting: October 14th 2021

Islington Survivors Network welcome this opportunity to respond tonight to the proposed Support Payment Scheme for Survivors of Non-recent Child Abuse.

Firstly, we thank all the survivors in our network for waiting so long since hopes were raised for a financial scheme back in 2017. We know how difficult that long wait has been.  Secondly, we thank over 100 survivors who provided evidence so that ISN could produce a comprehensive response to the council consultation which has contributed so much to the scheme being presented by the council tonight. We acknowledge that the Council has made some important changes to their first proposal although not all our responses were agreed.

It has been a long journey for us since the Executive meeting in September 2017 when many survivors spoke one by one of their very personal experiences of abuse when they were children in Islington’s care system. In response we received an apology & admission of council culpability from Richard Watts (then council leader) when he acknowledged “it was the darkest chapter in Islington council’s history” and gave a “full commitment to addressing past failings”. Sadly, since this time 8 Islington survivors have died without justice.

Since 2014, ISN have established and co-produced with the council the Islington Non-recent Abuse Team Support Service and the Trauma Service which are highly valued by many of us. ISN are committed to campaigning for the interests of all survivors including those who are excluded from this Scheme such as those who were in Islington Council foster placements. We also reassure survivors that we will advocate for them, when they apply for the payment, drawing on our extensive research, knowledge and expertise. Importantly, alongside the council, we will campaign for the DWP to decide that receipt of the payment will not affect entitlement to or the amount of any UK benefits. It would be devastating for many ISN survivors if the DWP refused to make this dispensation.

ISN broadly welcome this Support Payment Scheme and look forward to contributing to the planning for mplemention  during the following months.  However, there is still much work to be done to make sure that eligible survivors receive this payment as intended by the council objectives of being straightforward, quick to access & avoiding risk of further trauma.

Website: islingtonsurvivors.co.uk

Voicemail: 0300 302 0930 Email: islingtonsn@gmail.com

‘Survivors of child abuse in Islington to get £10,000’

Islington Gazette, 11.10.2021

Islington Town Hall

Survivors of a historic child abuse scandal in Islington children’s homes are set to receive a £10,000 payment each.

The £16million fund is due to be agreed at the council’s executive meeting this week (October 14).

Individual payments have increased by a fifth after the council consulted survivors of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by a council employee, a visitor introduced to a care home by the manager or a member of staff, or a volunteer, which took place in Islington-run children’s homes between 1966 to 1995.

The money will come from council reserves and people will initially have two years to come forward.

It is estimated that between 1,700 and 2,400 children lived in Islington children’s homes during the 30-year period, and 2,000 could still be alive.

Thirty-two survivors responded to the consultation.

The scheme is likely to be launched next spring and will be run independently of the council.

According to the council: “The support payment scheme… has been designed to enable eligible applicants to receive a payment more quickly than having to go through the trauma of the lengthy civil compensation claims process.”

Some people were concerned about plans to offset any civil compensation payment against this scheme’s payment, but it will not affect any civil claims survivors may bring.

The council said: “Whilst a scheme payment and a compensation payment are different, they are both coming from or on behalf of the council and the offset allows a fair distribution of a finite resource.”

There were 13 reports into complaints about children’s care in the years leading up to 1995 before the independent White report concluded that each of these looked at individual problems.

It said what happened was “a disastrous chapter in Islington’s history”, adding: “Each of these issues has been dealt with as a ‘straw in the wind’. No-one looked for the haystack, which was undoubtedly blowing.”

The report concluded that “Islington did not initiate the type of investigation they should have”.

Allegations include claims that some children in care were working as prostitutes at children’s homes, some were gang-raped and knifed and some children were introduced to drugs. Allegations were made about the abuse of 25 children.


‘Ex-Met Police officer and children’s home manager, 73, who raped and abused underage girls across the UK for two decades is jailed for 17 years’

Daily Mail, 19th May 2021

  • Paul Lamb, 73, was found guilty of 19 sexual offences at court earlier this month
  • His crimes began in early 70s in London – where he worked as Met Police officer
  • By the 1980s, he moved north and was appointed manager of a children’s home
  • Judge Tremberg sentenced him to 17-and-a-half-years in jail at Hull Crown Court

An ex-Met Police officer and children’s home manager who raped and abused underage girls across the UK for two decades has been jailed for 17 years.

Paul Lamb, 73, was found guilty of 19 sexual offences at Hull Crown Court earlier this month, including three counts of raping a girl under the age of 16.

The serial child abuser’s crimes began during the early 1970s in London – where he worked as an officer in the Metropolitan Police and had close ties with children’s homes in Islington.

From April 1970 to September 1972, Lamb committed his first rape of an underage girl and was also found guilty of two counts of indecent assault on a female aged under 16 in that period.

By the 1980s, Lamb had moved north and was appointed manager of the Brook Cottage children’s home in Driffield – a post he held from 1984 to 1987.

Paul Lamb (pictured above), 73, was found guilty of 19 sexual offences at Hull Crown Court earlier this month, including three counts of raping a girl under the age of 16

Whilst there, Lamb began sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, getting her drunk before abusing her and inappropriately touching her while she pretended to sleep.

It is said Lamb took her virginity when she was aged 16, raping her in the flat at the children’s home and in his family home while his wife and children were upstairs.

The victim’s evidence was read out in court by Judge David Tremberg, where it was heard: ‘I was about 15 or 16 and got back from the pub and carried on drinking at Paul’s flat [Brook Cottage].

‘It was spirits but I can’t remember what, I was legless. I remember waking up in the double bed.

‘I felt disgusted because I knew what he had done – have sex with me. When I woke up he brought me a cup of tea. He said the cleaner was downstairs and that I needed to get back into my room.

‘I felt hungover. After that Paul kept commenting that I wasn’t a virgin. It was like he was gloating.’

In her evidence the victim said she never consented to any of the sexual assaults and felt ‘frightened of what he would do’ if she spoke out.

In 1986, Lamb was subjected to a disciplinary hearing after the victim drunkenly told others in the home of the abuse he put her through.

Other girls made similar reports. He never returned to Brook Cottage.

But the young girl and Lamb kept in touch after she left the children’s home, with Lamb admitting to police that he had a sexual relationship with her when she was at least aged 19.

However, evidence in court suggested Lamb sexually assaulted her when she stayed with him and his family at his home. The victim last saw Lamb when she was aged 23 or 24.

Judge Tremberg, reading the evidence, said: ‘I didn’t want to hurt his family. I hated him but he was like a father figure. I hated him after he raped me.

‘It was a kind of love hate thing. I still wanted him to be the person I wanted him to be – like a father figure. I still wanted to be part of that family.’

The victim decided to give evidence of the abuse Lamb put her through in July 2019 after police found her possessions at Lamb’s home in Fishergate, York.

A diary was found where the victim set out the sexual abuse and rapes against her.

Earlier this year, Lamb appeared at Hull Crown Court to stand trial for 20 sexual offences – allegations he described as ‘ludicrous’ and ‘totally fictitious’.

However, a jury found him guilty of 19 of them, including 16 offences of indecent assault and three counts of rape.

Judge Tremberg sentenced him to 17-and-a-half-years in prison.