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Care home survivors say they feel ‘stabbed in back’

Islington Council is urged to make its redress scheme a priority

20 September, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Dr Liz Davies set up the Islington Survivors Network

SURVIVORS of Islington’s care home scandal have accused the council of dragging its feet on its promise of a redress scheme.

Scores of children were sexually and physically abused in Islington care homes between the 1970s and 1990s and after years of pressure on the council, the survivors were promised financial compensation in 2017.

But since then communication between the council and the Islington Survivors Network (ISN), an organisation set up to represent the abused, has broken down.

Dr Liz Davies, who set up ISN and originally blew the whistle on the scandal in the 1990s as a social worker, said: “It feels like we have been stabbed in the back.”

ISN has been working as part of a “co-production” agreement with the council, where they handle victims’ cases and undertake research into complaints.

They were told by council lawyers that a proposed scheme would go before a council executive meeting for approval in July, but this did not happen.

“Abuse is all about lies and trust,” Dr Davies said. “The survivors have had years of secrets. ISN on behalf of the survivors has been lied to and we trusted what we were told but it’s not happening.

“We feel the council has changed from what it was six to eight months ago. It appears the co-production agreement has now gone.”

One woman who was in the care system between 1976 and 1982, who did not want to be named, said: “Kids were moved around like bloody hot dinners. It’s ridiculous what people went through.

“The council should be making this a priority, instead of waving this carrot in front of people and then never delivering.”

Children in care in Lambeth over a similar period also experienced widescale abuse. Lambeth has begun a redress scheme which has already seen £19million paid out after 1,300 applications.

A 54-year-old man, who was sexually abused and beaten with a baseball bat in the seven years he spent in care, said: “My understanding was that there would be a redress scheme in place by now. It appears over the years it has been dragging on.”

Council leader Labour Richard Watts said: “We’re very sorry for Islington Council’s failure to protect vulnerable children in its care in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The council today is a very different organisation, and protecting children from harm is our top priority.”

He added: “The council and its professional advisors are working on a proposal for a financial support scheme that will go alongside the existing civil compensation available, as part of the package of support.

“This is legally complex, and we are also frustrated at how long it is taking to provide financial support to survivors.

“We will update the Islington Survivors Network (ISN) when this proposal has been developed further.”

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