Support service for institutional abuse victims in NI begins work in December

Support service for institutional abuse victims in NI begins work in December

Historical Institutional Abuse advocate Brendan McAllister. Picture: NI Assembly/PA

A new support service for victims and survivors of institutional abuse will be operational by December.

The service will respond to individual requests for assistance such as welfare advice, health and well-being, social support and information.

Operating under the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS), which looks after victims of the Troubles, the new scheme will be running from December 1.

Historical Institutional Abuse advocate Brendan McAllister said: “It is another important part of the infrastructure that the HIA victims need.”

The HIA Support Service will be based in Belfast and will cover all parts of Northern Ireland.

Mr McAllister added: “The establishment of the Support Service is a very significant step on the road to providing help to individuals who were abused or neglected in institutions as children.

“I wish to congratulate the Victims and Survivors Service, civil servants at the Executive Office, my own staff and members of the victims groups who worked together on the design of this new support service.

“It will be an important source of help in the years ahead.”

Survivors of historical institutional abuse celebrated when the compensation scheme was introduced (Rebecca Black/PA)

Since opening the HIA office in August last year, Mr McAllister’s staff have dealt with almost 1,300 enquiries, including 400 relating to the scheme set up to compensate victims.

The redress board headed by the High Court judge Adrian Colton, which oversees the compensation scheme, has so far received 647 applications and made 180 final determinations.

A total of £5.1m (€5.6m) has so far been paid out in compensation.

Mr McAllister is due to step down as the interim advocate in December and will be replaced by the new permanent HIA Commissioner Fiona Ryan.

Ms Ryan, the head of the Irish domestic abuse charity Sonas, will begin her five-year-term in the £71,932 (€79,664) per annum post on December 14.

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