Support service launched for survivors of mother and baby homes

Support service launched for survivors of mother and baby homes
(Liam McBurney/PA)

Survivors of historical institutions for women in Northern Ireland are to get access to mental health support and family tracing services.

Thousands of women and girls in Northern Ireland spent time in mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries and industrial schools over the last century.

Last year, a major academic research report outlined the scale of mistreatment in the institutions, the last of which closed in the 1990s.

An investigation into allegations of abuse is under way, while a public inquiry is expected to take place in the future.

The Executive Office has appointed the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) to lead the provision of the new services for survivors, supported by Adopt NI and the Wave Trauma Centre.

Survivors impacted by mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries and workhouses will have access to health and wellbeing services from Friday.

They include a dedicated health and wellbeing caseworker, complementary and psychological therapies, personal development and a pain management service.

Victims and survivors can also access new information recovery and family tracing services, as well as welfare and social support.

The VSS said the support services were based on input from survivors, and would be “accessible and responsive” to each survivor’s needs.

Andrew Walker, interim chief executive of the VSS, said the services are “an important step forward in ensuring that survivors have access to the support they need and deserve”.

“Through an extensive co-design process, involving victims and survivors, we have been able to develop responsive, practical and victim-centred services.

“The VSS has a dedicated and specialist team who, with Adopt NI and Wave Trauma Centre, will deliver services to victims and survivors on an individual basis and tailor supports according to their own unique requirements.”

Mr Walker said the VSS will work with the Executive Office, community partners and victims’ representative groups to raise awareness of services.

“I would encourage victims and survivors to avail of the full range of supports now available,” he said.

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