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Council denies obstructing victims of Islington care home abuse scandal

PUBLISHED: 11:54 22 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:18 26 May 2017

Richard at the former care home building in Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury, where he was abused as a child. Picture: Ken Mears

Richard at the former care home building in Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury, where he was abused as a child. Picture: Ken Mears

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Islington Survivors Network has accused the town hall of being obstructive to historic victims of care home abuse.

Islington Gazette of May 26, 2016Islington Gazette of May 26, 2016

But council leader Richard Watts said the authority has to respect “strict legal restrictions”.

Seven people, all women, have come forward to the network after the Gazette’s front page coverage in May.

We told the story of Richard (who didn’t want to disclose his second name), a survivor of abuse at the Grosvenor Avenue children’s home in Highbury in the 1970s.

He is one of hundreds to have suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse at up to 21 care homes across the borough.

The scandal was exposed by social worker Liz Davies in 1992 but many, such as Richard, only recently processed the horrific memories.

In May, Islington Survivors Network – led by Richard and Ms Davies – launched a website urging victims and whistleblowers to come forward.

The seven women who did were in care at Gisburne House in Watford (controlled by Islington Council), Highbury Crescent and Highbury Grove.

Updating the Gazette on Monday, Richard said: “The council has not been particularly helpful. There are too many barriers to accessing files. Survivors are being asked for ID, but many don’t have driving licences or passports.

“They are advocated by Liz, a registered social worker, which should be enough to satisfy the council. These people have been without support since they left care, and are still being ignored.

“The two women from Gisburne House have told of being taken away on trips, and being thrown – in a nasty way – into the lake. There was a lot of talk about physical abuse, being pushed around. Sometimes it would be by fellow children in the homes, who would appear to have been encouraged by staff.”

But Cllr Watts said: “This is an extremely sensitive issue and so there are, understandably, strict legal restrictions about how this information is shared. This means we need to seek formal identification from anyone seeking to access such records to make sure this highly personal data is properly protected.

“On occasion, these legal restrictions may make it challenging for people to access their files as quickly as they had hoped but it’s right that we have proper safeguards in place.”

The network, meanwhile, is appealing for donations on its fundraising page. Richard added: “We are resorting to that in order to be able to support people. Even paying for bus fares so they can come to visit us. Offering them a bit of decency, which they have lacked over the years.”

For more information, visit islingtonsurvivors.co.uk


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