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Care leavers scold government over memorial inaction

Care leavers scold government over memorial inaction

Monday 16 September 2019

Care leavers scold government over memorial inaction


Care leavers have lashed out at the government for failing to prioritise a memorial and support services for victims of abuse, arguing that responsibility for implementing - and even fundraising for - these targets has been pushed onto them.

The criticism came from the Jersey Citizens’ Panel – a group of former care home residents and islanders set up to advise the government on how to respond to the findings of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

14 months have passed since the Council of Ministers agreed in principle to implement the panel's recommendations, which were to:

  • create a memorial that is a suitable acknowledgment of what happened in the past and ensures the island never forgets;
  • organise an annual Children’s Day that looks back by remembering the survivors and victims, and looks forward by shining a light on children and young people living in the island now;
  • put in place more support services for survivors and their families;
  • and devise an emblem that becomes the symbol of the legacy project and is consistently used across all the elements.

In a submission to the Scrutiny review into the Care of Children in Jersey, members of the panel said that insufficient progress has been made on the project.

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Pictured: The majority of respondents to a public consultation said they didn't want the former Haut de la Garenne Children's Home to be demolished - a decision backed by the panel. 

Instead, they said responsibility for carrying out their recommendations - and even raising money towards them - is being pushed back onto them.

"There has been some commitment from the government to move things forward, for example committed funding for the memorial and an in-principle commitment from CYPES to ongoing funding for the Children’s Day," they said. "However, we believe there has been a failure at senior level (politicians and senior officers) to make sure that there is a clear action plan with budgets attached to each recommendation and that progress on these is regularly checked.

"Over a year after the recommendations were written there is still no confirmation of a site for the memorial and no improvements to the help and support for victims/survivors and their families."

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Pictured: Senator Sam Mézec was appointed to the the newly-established role of Minister for Children and Housing last July. 

They continued: "Overall we feel too much responsibility has been placed on panel members to deliver the recommendations and push for change. Government officers have been talking with us about the idea of us as the Citizens' Panel doing fundraising – this is not our responsibility."

The panellists - some of whom went through the island's heavily-criticised care system, while others were selected after 500 letters were randomly delivered to households across the island - feel that priority needs to be given at a senior level to confirming the site for a memorial as soon as possible.

That process is already months behind schedule after the panellists' preferred site in Royal Square was scuppered by "heritage and planning constraints" earlier this year. 

The work of the Citizens’ Panel was initially billed as being £28,500 – but the project then entered what was described as the “second phase” between November last year to this July.

This means that, as revealed by Express at the end of July, the first two phases of the Citizens’ Panel process, which “includes two contracts with Contact Consulting and all other costs and expenses”, had actually cost £68,406.

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