International awareness drive launched on help for institutional abuse survivors
Awareness campaigns have been launched for a compensation fund for survivors of abuse at historical institutions in Northern Ireland.
Support and compensation were among the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) which revealed sexual, physical and emotional abuse at state, church and charity-run homes from 1922 to 1995.
Stormont's Executive Office said some 900 people have received help and support so far, and almost £65 million has been paid out in terms of redress.
Denis McMahon, Permanent Secretary at the Executive Office, said officials want to work to ensure all those who have not yet come forward know that help is available.
“Victims and survivors of historical abuse face very personal, difficult and unique challenges as a result of their lived experience across a wide range of institutions and it is important that they get advice on making an application for compensation and access to services they need,” he said.
“The focus now is ensuring those who have not yet come forward know that help is available.”
Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse Fiona Ryan is supporting the Executive Office campaign.
Her office is also launching a campaign to reach survivors who may have moved from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the Republic of Ireland and make them aware of their entitlements.
“I know from many survivors whom I have listened to, the trauma of the abuse they suffered as children is not a distant memory but a reality they live with every day,” Ms Ryan said.
“I know that for others even acknowledging what happened to them is a source of deep pain and shame.
“Every survivor is an individual and the choice they make about whether, when and how they seek services or redress is their own and should be respected.
“My hope is that these initiatives reach victims and survivors who are unaware or unsure of their entitlements and provides them with the information they need to make informed choices in accessing supports, services and redress.”
Ms Ryan added: “Whether through economic necessity, the impact of the Troubles, or the very real wish to leave the place they associated with their childhood trauma, there are a significant number of victims and survivors who are no longer living in Northern Ireland and who are living elsewhere.
“They are in addition to the victims and survivors of the Child Migrant Programme who were taken from Northern Ireland to Australia.
“My office is beginning its awareness initiative in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the Republic of Ireland with the aim of reaching Northern Ireland victims and survivors of historical institutional childhood abuse living in these countries, and encouraging awareness of their entitlements.
“The initiative will include advertising in newspapers, press and publicity and engaging with organisations, particularly at community level, who may come in contact with Northern Ireland victims and survivors of historical institutional child abuse in the course of their work.”