Lambeth sexual abuse survivor who went on to self harm gets six-figure compensation

A man sexually abused while staying in a children’s homes 30 years ago is urging others affected by the ‘nightmare’ to come forward after he won a six-figure payout.

The survivor started to self-harm after he was subjected to sexual and physical abuse during placements at Larch House, St Saviours and South Vale Assessment Centre during the 1980s.

It started with staff tapping on his bottom before it escalated. The then boy, who was afraid of the dark, was then regularly locked in a room and the lightbulb taken out.  He was also forced to shower with other boys.

He has since endured long-term emotional and psychological issues as a result of the abuse, including insomnia, nightmares and self-harm. He has also struggled with relationships and holding down a job.

He said: “It is unbearable to think about everything that happened and awful to consider just how much of an impact it has had on my life. No child should have to face the nightmare that I endured. I tried to run away so I could get away from what was happening but each time I would be found and taken back into care.

“While it’s more than 30 years since I was abused the effects didn’t stop when the abuse ended. While I’ve tried to put it behind me and move on what happened has always stayed with me and shaped the adult I’ve become.

“With these funds, I hopefully have a chance to get support that can help me look more positively to the future. The past cannot be changed, but I want to finally be able to try and put it behind me.

“I would also urge anyone else affected by these types of problems to not face it alone. It takes a lot of bravery to speak out, but it can make a massive difference.”

Hundreds of people have reported they were subjected to a range of abuse – including sexual, physical, racial and psychological abuse – while under the care of Lambeth Council. The abuse is believed to have stretched from the 1950s until a network of children’s homes run by the local authority closed in 1983.

Lambeth council admitted that it had failed to protect the children in its care and set up the Lambeth Redress scheme for those affected in 2016. This included a ‘Harm’s Way Payment’ of up to £10,000 to former residents as well as separate individual payments – based on an assessment of each individual case – for those subjected to abuse.

The man, now in his 40s, instructed specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to submit his case under the Redress Scheme. He has now been awarded a six-figure sum. He plans to use this to obtain treatment for the psychological impact of the abuse, as well as to improve his literacy after he received a poor education while in care.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons,  has teamed up with Irwin Mitchell to urge other survivors affected by abuse at Lambeth children’s homes to come forward, particularly as the deadline for the redress scheme is approaching. Applications are being accepted until 5pm on 1 January, 2022.

The man’s settlement comes after Irwin Mitchell previously secured six-figure settlements for a number of people and families affected by abuse while under the care of Lambeth Council.

Natasha Fairs, a specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who supports survivors of abuse, representing the man, said: “It remains shocking to consider the level of abuse that emerged in children’s homes run by Lambeth Council, with many vulnerable young people suffering as a result.

“While nothing can sadly change what has happened, we’re now determined to support those affected. We’re delighted to have helped our client and hope these funds will ensure he can get access to treatment and support he requires as he continues to try to come to terms with his experiences.

“However, with the deadline for applications approaching, we would also urge anyone else affected to not suffer in silence. It can be very difficult to speak out, but all complaints and claims will be handled sensitively and seriously.”

Raymond Stevenson of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association said: “Any compensation is welcome and justified, when you look at the abuse people suffered. But equally, there are many more the borough’s care children who suffered the same abuse and have fallen through the net because of the Lambeth’s cleverly-constructed Redress Scheme.”

Councillor Andy Wilson, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, said: “Lambeth council sincerely apologises to all victims and survivors of abuse and neglect at Lambeth’s former children’s homes which were open from the 1930s until the 1980s and ’90s.

“People were incredibly let down, and we are committed to righting the wrongs of the past, as far as we are able.

“More than £70 million has been paid in compensation to survivors of abuse at the borough’s children’s home, and Lambeth council is the only local authority in the country to have opened a redress scheme of this kind.

“We would strongly encourage any former Lambeth Children’s Home residents who haven’t applied to the scheme over the past four years to lodge a compensation claim before January 1, 2022.”

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