Abuse survivors ‘left out’ of support payments

Fears some victims of care scandal are missing out on Town Hall money

Friday, 3rd June — By Anna Lamche

Dr Liz Davies

Dr Liz Davies

AS the Town Hall opens its long-awaited support payment scheme for the survivors of Islington’s child abuse scandal, only some of those who suffered can breathe “a sigh of relief”.

Those who experienced abuse – be it emotional, sexual, physical abuse or neglect – in an Islington care home between 1966 and 1995 can now apply for a £10,000 “support payment” from the council. Survivors have two years to make their applications via an online form.

However, according to Megan*, an abuse survivor and co-ordinator of Islington Survivors Network (ISN), many people who were abused in the council’s care system have been “left out” of the payments.

In 1970, Megan was just six months old when she was put into an Islington care home in Muswell Hill.

Shortly after, she was moved to Harlow in Essex and split up from her siblings. “We never lived together again after that,” Megan said. “That was very common in those days.”

All three siblings experienced abuse at the hands of Islington’s care system.

While Megan was placed into a care home, one of her sisters was put straight into a foster home and the other was placed in a hostel.

As the Town Hall launched its “support payment” scheme on Tuesday, Megan’s family story serves as a stark reminder of those who will miss out on the payment.

Because she was placed in an Islington home, Megan can claim the payment – but her two siblings, who were placed in foster care and hostels respectively, cannot.

“They’re not entitled to the money,” Megan said. “You have to have lived in an Islington children’s home [to be eligible].

“But we can’t forget that Islington placed 15-year-olds in hostels with drug abusers and people coming out of prison. They won’t take responsibility for whatever happened in those hostels, even though Islington social workers placed those children there.

“The same goes for foster parents – they were trained by Islington, they were paid by Islington, they underwent regular reviews by Islington. And again, they’ve decided no: they’re not going to pay this money to children who were abused by their foster parents.

“Islington Council took these children away from their parents, because they said it was the best thing. And they placed them with foster parents who abused them for 10 years. How is it possible that Islington isn’t taking responsibility for that?”

Megan has also said the £10,000 support payment will inspire “people that would never normally come forward to come forward now”. In this context, she hopes the council has “extra provisions” to give support to everyone who needs it.

Megan encourages anyone who would like to discuss the support scheme to “have a cup of tea” with ISN. The service is run by two survivors and Dr Liz Davies, who has “all of the historical context and all of the information that’s needed”.

Responding to Megan’s concerns, an Islington Council spokesperson said: “The Islington Support Payment Scheme was specifically designed for survivors who suffered abuse when placed by Islington in its children’s homes.

“The scheme is legally complex and it has taken significant legal, actuarial and financial input to get to the stage where we can launch it.

“All abuse is absolutely and equally legitimate and valid. We are conscious of the length of time it has taken to create this very complex scheme, and do not want to delay it any longer for these survivors. Further work would have to be carried out to ascertain if a foster care scheme would be viable.

“As a minimum, the council’s wider support available for survivors – which includes trauma support – will be available over the duration of the payment scheme.

“We recognise that this may be the first time that people are making contact with our support team; the scheme has been designed to offer support at every stage of the process. Those working on the scheme are experienced in social care and support in Islington.”

Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, said: “We’re deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children in its children’s homes, which was the worst chapter in this council’s history.

“I’d like to thank the very many people, especially those directly affected by abuse and groups who support them, who have contacted us with questions and feedback throughout the development of the scheme, and who continue to help shape it.”

*Name has been changed

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