Application Deadline Warning
Survivors of one of the country’s worst child abuse scandals have urged others to come forward after specialist lawyers secured settlements for them.
Hundreds of people have reported they were subjected to a range of abuse - including sexual, physical and psychological abuse - while under the care of Lambeth Council. The abuse is believed to have stretched from the 1950s until a network of children’s homes run by the local authority closed in 1983.
The Council admitted that it had failed to protect the children in its care and set up the Lambeth Redress scheme for those affected. This included a ‘Harm’s Way Payment’ of up to £10,000 to former residents as well as separate individual payments - based on an assessment of each individual case - for those subjected to abuse.
Survivors have instructed specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to submit claims under the Redress Scheme to help them overcome the trauma of what they faced at the homes the best they can.
Three of those have now urged others who were under the care of Lambeth Council to ensure they sign up to the Lambeth Redress scheme before the deadline date of 1 January, 2020, when the scheme will close.
It comes after Irwin Mitchell secured the three settlements totalling more than £290,000.
The three people cannot be named for legal reasons.
Expert Opinion“The culture of abuse that was allowed to thrive in children’s homes, foster homes and residential facilities run by Lambeth Council throughout this time period is truly shocking.
“The effects of what happened many years ago continue to impact on people’s lives and it can be extremely difficult for them to deal with these issues.
“Our clients have shown tremendous bravery and courage in reporting what happened to them. With the deadline for applications to this scheme approaching, they want to ensure that other survivors who have suffered whilst in the care of Lambeth Council are aware of the redress scheme.
“While nothing can change what they have been through, taking action could ensure they can gain vital funds which will allow them to access counselling and other support services to help them to overcome their problems as best they can and look to the future more positively.” Peter Lorence - Associate Solicitor
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting survivors of abuse
Case Study One
One man who contacted Irwin Mitchell reported how he suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse while at Shirley Oaks children’s home in the 1960s.
The man said how he was abused for more than two years, during which time he saw staff target other children.
After suffering in silence for years, the man, now in his 50s, instructed specialist lawyers to help him gain justice regarding his ordeal.
The legal experts were then able to take a claim forward on his behalf through the Lambeth Redress Scheme.
Now, after receiving a five-figure settlement regarding his own experiences, the man is urging others to keep in mind that no further applications to the scheme will be accepted after 1 January, 2020.
Discussing his ordeal, he said: “I had a terrible childhood and feel as though Lambeth took away my youth and my innocence. While the abuse stopped, the effects have stayed with me.
“I have had a long history of mental health problems as a result and my education was disrupted.”
While the man went on to marry and have children, the effects of what happened meant he struggled to maintain relationships.
He added: “Over the years I have not been good at relationships. I prefer to live on my own. I have found it difficult to parent my children because I am very strict with them and worry about them. I am over vigilant and am concerned about their safety at all times.
“The sexual abuse I suffered has had a huge effect on my adult life. It continues to affect me in all aspects of my relationships and I have not been able hold down jobs.”
Case Study Two
One woman was taken into care as a child in the 1970s, but for reasons unknown, was then placed back with her mum. During this time she suffered abuse and neglect by her mum and grandparents.
Following this she was placed in Shirley Oaks where the woman said she was sexually, racially and physically abused. She also witnessed staff bullying younger children.
The woman continued to suffer sexual abuse when she was placed in foster care.
After contacting Irwin Mitchell she was awarded a total of £122,000 to help her access specialist support and help compensate for the fact that she now has struggles to find work because of her illness.
The woman, in her 50s, said: “Being in care was a nightmare. Instead of been protected, every day was a struggle and consisted of trying to think of ways to avoid being abused.
“It is so hard to describe what it was like living in an environment where it felt like you could be targeted at any time. What happened then has totally dominated my life.
“It has been a long, hard road but this settlement has been a welcome step and makes me want to try and put everything well and truly behind me.
“I wanted to speak out to ensure that others understand the scheme will close soon and applications must be made.”
Case Study 3
Another man told his legal team at Irwin Mitchell how he was sexually abused by a female member of staff at Shirley Oaks and also witnesses the same woman carrying out similar assaults on other boys.
The man, who was separated from his siblings in care, also suffered at the hands of other members of staff who physically and psychologically abused him over a “prolonged period of time” in the 1950s and 1960s.
He has now received a settlement of £115,000.
The man, in his 60s said: “Nobody, let alone a child, should have to suffer the prolonged abuse many of us suffered.
“Even as I grew older and moved away, what happened stayed with me. I would try not to let it get to me and move on, but it was always there. The abuse controlled my life.
“However, one day I had enough. I was angry and tired about what happened and I knew something had to be done.
“I know I face challenges ahead but I want to try and look the future. It can be hard to speak out, but people should have confidence that their voices will be heard and they will be treated sensitively.
“It is important the survivors of abuse do not feel they have to live in silence as there is support available.”