A panel of 14 islanders tasked with considering how the island should remember the victims of Jersey’s care system has recommended that a memorial be erected in the Royal Square.
The panel, which includes islanders who went through the island's heavily-criticised care system, also agreed unanimously that the former Haut de la Garenne children’s home should not be demolished - contrary to the recommendations of the recent Child Care Inquiry.
It follows the result of a public consultation which saw 850 people sharing their views about the future of the former children’s home. Almost 94% of respondents stated that they ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the recommendation to demolish the building.
The Independent Care Inquiry Panel had suggested the States consider the demolition of the buildings. They noted: "For many former residents, and for other Jersey citizens, the HDLG buildings are a reminder of an unhappy past or shameful history. For other people in Jersey, HDLG is an unwelcome symbol of the turmoil and trauma of the early stages of Operation Rectangle and the attention brought to the island."
Pictured: A majority of respondents said they didn't want Haut de la Garenne to be demolished.
The consultation and memorial project were part of the States' response to Recommendation 8 of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which identified the need to determine how the failures of the island’s child care system should be recognised and remembered. Earlier this year, a citizens’ panel was formed to consider how this would be best done.
The panel worked together for five days to develop a four-part recommendation, which has now been published and will be discussed by the Council of Ministers today. It includes the creation of a memorial in Royal Square, the designation of 3 July, the anniversary of the publication of the Care Inquiry, as ‘Jersey Children’s Day’ and help and support for survivors and their families. An emblem, the butterfly, would link all the elements of the legacy project.
The members of the citizens’ panel said: “Our task was to create a vision of how best our Island can remember all those who were in care and the suffering they endured. We believe that to move forward we must look back and that to do so all four elements of our recommendations must be implemented.
“This next step will help a heavily divided community to work through its past, well-documented, failings. There has been much loss, pain and, in many cases, irreparable damage done. We have agreed to continue meeting in order to bring our aspirations to fruition.”
Some of the members added: “We are the lucky ones: we survived. We will carry the physical and mental scars with us for the rest of our lives, but we survived. This memorial will help us, in part, to remember those who didn't, those for whom the pain was too much and took their own lives. We, the people of Jersey, must ensure that this is never allowed to happen again.”
Senator Sam Mézec, the recently-appointed Minister for Children, said the consultation findings will be carefully considered.
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