“Hundreds of people who have suffered abuse at the hands of a Lambeth Children’s Home have formed an action group (Shirley Oaks Survivors Association) which aims to get justice for the many that have been sexually, mentally and physically abused whilst in the supposed care of Lambeth Social Services. The abuse suffered at The Shirley Oaks Children’s Home over a period of years dating from the 1950s to 1983 was the catalyst for the endemic sexual abuse that later spread across the UK.
7000 children passed through the gates of Shirley Oaks, which was situated on a site which was approximately 70 acres in size, complete with its own school, swimming pool, works depot and a doctor’s surgery. For most vulnerable children aged between 2 -14 years, it was easy to believe they had been sent to an outpost of heaven. Lush green fields surrounded the village style setting with houses branching off the enclosed ring road which for many would end up being a road paved to hell.
Whether you suffered abuse or not was a lottery depending on which house you were sent to – your fate was sealed. Behind the closed doors of a Victorian style care system was a Victorian style ethos. Children should be seen and not heard and can be abused and not listened to. In the early sixties this seemingly picturesque environment became a breeding ground for predators as they drove their cars around offering sweets and other inducements looking to seduce their vulnerable prey.
The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) is a support group that has been set up to listen and document the accounts of those who have suffered or witnessed a variety of horrific abuse whilst in care in Lambeth Children’s Homes.“
Clifford Heap was Superintendent of Shirley Oaks children’s home until 1964. From 1964 -1971 Heap was Superintendent of Stamford House secure unit prior to his appointment in Islington, where he became Assistant Director of Social Services for Day and Residential Care from 1973 until 1980.
In 1979, Heap took a child from an Islington children’s home to visit another Islington child who had been placed in Stamford House [where Heap had previously been Superintendent] and threatened him that if he told about sexual abuse in the children’s home he would “end up in that secure unit”. Report #4: Morgan’s denial of organised abuse – Islington Survivors Network
Shirley Oaks Survivors Association alerted Sarah Morgan QC to their concerns about Heap and the connections between Lambeth and Islington abuse networks.