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Islington child abuse scandal: Still no payouts for survivors two years on from council pledge

PUBLISHED: 16:27 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 09 July 2019

Dr Liz Davies outside Islington Police Station in 2017. Picture: Polly Hancock

Dr Liz Davies outside Islington Police Station in 2017. Picture: Polly Hancock

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The sister of an Islington child abuse survivor has hit out at the council over a perceived lack of action since it accepted culpability for the historic scandal almost two years ago.

Council leader Richard Watts. Picture: Polly HancockCouncil leader Richard Watts. Picture: Polly Hancock

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says her brother's health has worsened in the last few months as he waits for help, and he has tried to kill himself.

In September 2017 Islington Council apologised to the Islington Survivors Network (ISN), whose members were among potentially thousands abused physically and sexually by paedophiles in borough-run care homes between the 1970s and 1990s.

At the time the council said, alongside a redress scheme, it would offer survivors access to psychological support and help with housing and benefits. So far £2.1million has been paid out in compensation to survivors who have made individual claims off their own back, but that figure has not increased since before 2017. Survivors have also had problems accessing the support, and now the survivor's sister has accused the council of not doing enough.

She told the Gazette: "They've opened this wound even wider and led them to believe they were going to be taken care of and people would be punished. Now they have left them with these wounds open and aren't doing anything.

"The campaign has lost its momentum. My brother is one of their victims and nothing has been done. He has relapsed and is stuck in a place in the middle of nowhere in an asbestos-ridden flat. He tried to hang himself at Christmas.

"He's had meetings with police and nothing has happened.

"Islington owes him. They took away his life and everything has come to a standstill.

"I can't help everybody, I just want to help my brother get up here.

"Islington offered him a place in Camden which is a trigger for him, and besides, we [his family] are Islington. I've spoken to his support worker and his partner and they said things are really bad."

ISN founder Dr Liz Davies, the whistleblower social worker who exposed the devastating scale of Islington's child abuse in 1992 through the Evening Standard, said survivors were losing hope.

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"They have all been waiting for the redress scheme," she said. "The impact is that some survivors are getting really depressed. We've had five attempted suicides and the level of distress is definitely increasing as people are losing all hope."

Liz did praise the council's support services, saying they had helped a lot of people, but highlighted that some survivors could not access them because they had moved away. ISN has about 150 members. The council says more than 50 have accessed the support service.

"We've had 100 per cent good feedback from the trauma service [which provides psychologists]," she said. "People are getting a lot from it.

"And the support service has helped a lot of members with housing issues and benefits, it's very impressive. The issue is they don't cover outside London. They should be liaising with other authorities."

Liz also said the council had been helpful in providing access to records, allowing the ISN to create a timeline of abuse. She also said "quite a few" former staff members had come forward as witnesses as the case for prosecutions continues to build.

Unfortunately, the ISN has got "nowhere at all" with police, following the departure of a DCI in Holborn who was working on the case.

Islington leader Cllr Richard Watts said: "We're committed to supporting the survivors and have put in place a package of support.

"We urge any survivors of abuse who need help and support to please get in touch, whether they have previously contacted us or not. We will do everything we can to help.

"The council has paid compensation to a number of victims over the years and in the last few years has put more money aside to further support victims. Anyone with a claim against the council should come forward.

"In addition the council and its advisors are also working on a proposal for a financial support scheme to go alongside the existing civil compensation available. This is legally complex, and we will update ISN when it has been developed further."

To access support email survivorsupport@islington.gov.uk.

To contact ISN email islingtonsn@gmail.com.

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