Media Release: Report recommends Scottish ‘confidential forum’ for former residents of children’s homes

THERE should be a national confidential forum to acknowledge those who were abused in residential care as children, according to a report published today (Wednesday 23 February) by a Government-commissioned panel.

Says a spokesperson: “Time to be Heard was a pilot forum set up to allow former residents of children’s homes the chance to recount their experiences of care, especially abusive experiences, to an independent panel.

“The Time to be Heard report makes a number of recommendations which will be put to Scottish Ministers for consideration.

“Most of the hearings took place in Glasgow, however, arrangements were made for those who were unable to travel to the city, and in five cases the hearings took place in Canada.

“The establishment of the pilot confidential forum stemmed from the 2007 Historic Abuse Systemic Review. The review identified the laws and associated arrangements that were meant to protect children from abuse in Scottish residential schools and children’s homes from 1950 to 1995.

“In February 2008, Scottish Ministers announced their commitment to a ‘truth and reconciliation’ approach to survivors of alleged care abuse.

Tom Shaw, former chief inspector of education in Northern Ireland, who led the original review, chaired the panel of three Time to be Heard commissioners.

He was accompanied by Scotland’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People, Kathleen Marshall, and consultant forensic clinical psychologist, Anne Carpenter.

Tom Shaw said: “Participants have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience of Time to be Heard.

“They spoke of the effect on their self-respect, self-confidence and progress towards closure. For many, the most important benefit was simply feeling that their experiences have been acknowledged.

“We are grateful to each and every one of the survivors who took part.

“By sharing their experiences with the panel, they have enabled us to identify a dignified, respectful and effective way by which more survivors can recount their experiences.”

The report recommends that the Time to be Heard model should be the basis for the national confidential forum.

It argues that the forum should be open to applications from anyone who, as a child, had experience of being looked after in a residential setting.

The report also highlights/recommends:

  • The need for greater support for young people leaving care, including provision for care workers continuing their relationship with the young person for up to five years after they have left care.
  • The need for clear communication of complaints processes so that children can raise concerns with the confidence that doing so will not make things worse
  • The need to explore the impact that being in care as a child has when people go into care as an older person.
  • All institutions that provide residential care services should ensure that their record keeping, records management and archival services meet the best current standards
  • All residential child care providers should develop a photographic archive. Few former residents had any photographs of themselves as children.
  • Appropriate legislation should be introduced to give the necessary protection for the effective operation of a national confidential forum

The pilot forum was independent of Government and was modelled on the Confidential Committee of the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse which had been established by statute.

As a pilot, Time to be Heard did not have a statutory framework.

This meant that the chair and commissioners had to work in a way that protected the information, provided in confidence, from having to be disclosed.

The report recommends that a future national forum should be set up by statute to provide a more secure basis for assuring confidentiality.

Time to be Heard had no powers to investigate allegations and no role in recommending compensation.

A national confidential telephone support line is provided by In Care Survivors Service Scotland on 0800 121 6027 providing support, guidance and advocacy to those who suffered abuse and their families.


Further information and interview requests: or or call 0131 556 0770.

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Contact: Trish McGuinness
Phone: 0131 556 0770