Victims and survivors of HIA urged not to miss out on support services and possible compensation
A campaign is being intensified to raise awareness for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse (HIA) who may be eligible for compensation but have not yet applied for it.
The independent Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (2014-2017) investigated abuse of individuals in Northern Ireland who were under the age of 18 and residents in institutions between 1922 and 1995.
The final HIA Inquiry report, which was published in 2017, made many recommendations including the award of compensation to victims and survivors, the appointment of The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA) and provision of health and wellbeing services, an apology and a memorial.
The Executive Office wants to ensure victims are fully aware of the support and services available, and encourage those who have suffered to come forward and receive the help they’re entitled to.
As of October 31 2023, the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board (HIARB) has received 4,115 complete applications since its establishment on 31 March 2020. 4,022 of these applications have been considered by a panel with over £78 million made in determinations.
The campaign, which began in March, has had several phases. Adverts were placed in local weekly and daily newspapers, posters have been on display in GP surgeries, courts and Jobs and Benefits offices and most recently in May, leaflets have been sent to every household in Northern Ireland.
Each phase focussed on making victims aware of all the services available and was supported by a dedicated social media campaign.
In the latest phase, a strong digital and online campaign started in October and will run until next year.
However, nearly ten years on from when the HIA inquiry was first launched, some victims have yet to come forward – either because they are completely unaware of the support available or because they are inhibited by their traumas.
Victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse face very personal, difficult and unique challenges as a result of their lived experience.
The trauma of the abuse they suffered as children is not a distant memory but a reality they live with every day, and the prospect of coming forward could prove to be too overwhelming.
Other barriers include mental health or educational issues, but it's hoped that increased awareness can ensure hidden victims don’t miss out on compensation and support.
The campaign aims to raise awareness for families of victims too, in the hope they can initiate a conversation to those suffering in silence.
Ultimately, every victim is different and the choice they make about whether, when and how they seek services or redress is their decision, and theirs alone.
The purpose of the campaign is to establish everything that is available to survivors so they can make an informed decision.
Further advice and information, including how to apply for compensation, is available by emailing email@example.com or by telephoning 02890 544 985.
More information on specialist support and services, is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 02890 311 678.