Time to be Heard
Time to be Heard is about understanding and acknowledging the experiences of people who were in care as children, whether those experiences were positive or negative. We are inviting up to 100 people who spent time in Quarriers as children to tell us their experiences.
In February 2008, Scottish Ministers announced that the Government were committed to scoping whether a Truth and Reconciliation approach to survivors of alleged in care abuse would be appropriate. We prepared a discussion paper, under the new title of Time to be Heard, and with the help of members of the SurvivorScotland National Reference Group, circulated this discussion paper to many people.
We also held consultation exercises to get feedback from survivors about the possibility of holding a forum and what that should entail. We made extensive efforts to ensure that all the stakeholders had the opportunity to respond. We wanted particularly to try and reach survivors whose voices might not otherwise be heard.
In addition to the consultation, we have taken into account the experiences of inquiries and forums in Australia, Canada, Wales and Ireland and previous inquiries in Scotland: Kerelaw School (2009), Child Abuse at Care Homes in Fife (2002) and Abuse and Protection of Children in Care in Edinburgh (1999).
Scottish Ministers agreed that a pilot forum Time to be Heard would go ahead in 2010. Time to be Heard is part of the Survivor Scotland strategy to help adult survivors who were sexually abused as children. The Pilot Forum is funded by the Scottish Government. Up to £375,000 is available for 2010 and the same amount for 2011.
It is hoped that the forum will help survivors in the following ways:
- Provide an opportunity for survivors to talk openly about their experiences and be listened to without question.
- Safeguard the rights of survivors and the rights of people and institutions against whom allegations are made. Time to be Heard will not be an alternative to criminal prosecution or civil action.
- Creation of a confidential ‘historic record’ from the information presented. This record will not name individuals but will validate what survivors experienced and acknowledge Scotland’s recognition of their experiences. The record should help us learn from past failures and improve practice in the future.
- Provide access and signposts to other forms of support for survivors. We're aware Time to be Heard may re-awaken distressing memories for survivors. Therefore any survivor involved in Time to be Heard will be offered access to counselling and given details of relevant support services, both during and after Time to be Heard.
Tom Shaw, Chair
Appointed by the Public Health Minister, supported by Justice and Education ministers, Time to be Heard’s Chair, Tom Shaw, was previously appointed by ministers as the independent expert to lead a review of the systems for children in residential schools and children's homes from 1950 to 1995. His Historic Abuse Systemic Review from 2007 has already had a significant impact on residential childcare in Scotland. The country's first Commissioner for Children and Young People, Kathleen Marshall, has been appointed as one of the commissioners who will sit with the chair. Consultant forensic clinical psychologist Anne Carpenter has been appointed as the other commissioner. Quarriers was selected as a large national provider of child care in Scotland (30,000 people between 1878 and 1983), which has acknowledged that some children in its care were abused.
Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:
“Time to be Heard is an opportunity for society to acknowledge the experiences of those adults who have survived abuse in residential care. By having their experiences recognised and recorded we hope to provide these men and women with some public acknowledgement."
“Quarriers is very clear about its responsibility to the survivors of abuse and is to be commended for supporting the pilot. This is positive progress for Time to be Heard – which will in turn be a real step forward for people who spent time in residential care as children.”
Dr. Phil Robinson, chief executive of Quarriers, said:
“Quarriers fully supports the pilot forum and will work with the Scottish Government to ensure the Forum achieves its aims.”
Time to be Heard Chair Tom Shaw said:
“I welcome Quarriers' willingness to support Time to be Heard. I hope their positive approach will encourage others involved now or in the past in residential childcare to see the pilot forum as a progressive step forward.”