Church of Scotland encourages survivors to speak to Child Abuse Inquiry

The Church of Scotland --through CrossReach—will be taking part in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, set up by the Scottish Government to raise public awareness of the scale and impact of abuse affecting children in residential care between 1930 and 2014.

Hand of support

The inquiry will provide an opportunity for the public acknowledgement of the suffering of these children and a forum for validation of their experience and testimony.

It will also help identify any policy and practice changes needed to protect children in care from such abuse in the future.

Viv Dickenson, Director of Children and Family Services for CrossReach, the Social Care Council of the Church, said the church is cooperating fully with the Inquiry.

“The Church of Scotland is actively participating in the Inquiry and is providing all the information requested as we are legally required to do,” she said.

“Safeguarding is at the centre of our activity within CrossReach today, as it is throughout the Church of Scotland”

“We pay careful attention to the recruitment, supervision and training of staff in order to provide a safe and nurturing culture and we work within the Church of Scotland Safeguarding procedures so that we quickly pick up on any risk of harm to children in our care.

“We believe that the way in which we work today is in line with current best practice for protecting children in residential care.

“However, as an organisation invested in continuous improvement we will be interested in the findings of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which will examine practice as far back as the 1930s, and anything we learn during this process will be used to help us strengthen and improve our safeguarding policies going forward.

“We encourage anyone who suffered abuse or witnessed it to come forward and speak confidentially to Lady Smith and her team.”

More than 100 locations under investigation

The Inquiry, which started work on 1 October 2015, will be led by Lady Smith, a judge with a strong interest and experience in children and families law. It covers children who were brought up in residential care homes run by local authorities, and non-profit groups including churches.

Lady Smith is taking evidence from people who were in care and from witnesses.

More than 100 locations including 60 residential institutions are under investigation, including three residential care establishments run by the Church.

They are Ballikinrain School, Geilsland Residential School, and the Lord and Lady Polwarth Home for Children in Edinburgh.

The Inquiry chair will decide which people and organisations have the most significant roles in the investigation and will designate them core participants. CrossReach does not yet know whether they will be asked to be core participants in the inquiry.

Survivors can remain anonymous

Hearings have already started and will continue during the coming months.

People who experienced abuse in care or anyone who witnessed abuse in a residential setting are encouraged to contact the inquiry and tell their stories.

Abuse survivors will be able to remain anonymous unless they request otherwise. Other witnesses may request anonymity. Those who need support as they come forward can contact the inquiry’s witness support team, made up of professionals with expertise in trauma.

The inquiry is expected to last four years and will make its report around that time.

Are you a survivor of child abuse while in residential care or did you witness abuse of a child in care?

Contact the Inquiry

By post at: PO BOX 24085, Edinburgh, EH7 9EA

By emailing: information@childabuseinquiry.scot

Or Call: 0800 0929 300

Find out more about speaking to the inquiry here.

Find answers to your questions on the Inquiry’s Frequently Asked Questions web page.

If you don't want to contact the inquiry at this time but would like to speak to a supportive person:

Rape Crisis Scotland provides a national rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened. The helpline is open from 6pm to midnight, 7 days a week, and offers free and confidential initial and crisis support and information. The helpline can also put you in touch with local rape crisis centres or other services for ongoing support.

Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline – 08088 01 03 02

The In Care Survivors Service Scotland is a trauma informed counselling and advocacy support service for adults who suffered childhood abuse in care and their families. They run a national confidential helpline which is open from 9am – 11am Monday to Friday.

In Care Survivors Service Scotland – 0800 121 6027