The National Confidential Forum (the Forum) has been set up as part of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014. The Scottish Government has legislated for and funded the Forum to show the importance given to the experiences of adults who were in institutional care as children. However, the Forum operates independently from the government.
The Forum is part of the Survivor Scotland Strategy. The Survivor Scotland Strategy aims to make sure that help and advice is there for anyone who is an adult survivor-that is anyone who was harmed as a child and is now over 16. You can find out more about that at www.survivorscotland.org.uk or by phoning the Survivor Scotland Team on 0131 244 1723 or 0131 2443633.
What people say at the Forum will form an important record about children in care in Scotland in the past. The Head of the Forum, will write a report each year, so that everyone can find out what has happened over that year. Part of the report each year will cover how the Forum was run. It is very important to learn from those who take part about how they found the experience. All participants will be invited to give us feedback.
We hope to be able to identify lessons we can learn from the experiences of those who take part. Our work in the Forum aims to help ensure that children and young people in care will be safe in the future.The reports from the Forum and the recommendations will be based on the testimony of those who take part. These recommendations may talk about wider issues and problems. The testimony of individuals will always be confidential.
By giving your testimony you will have done a valuable service for people like you who were in care as children; for children today and in the future and for anyone who lives or has ever lived in care in Scotland.
The National Confidential Forum (the Forum) is about understanding and acknowledging your experiences as a child in institutional care in Scotland, whatever they were.
If you want to, you will be able to tell the members of the Forum about your experiences, including any abuse you suffered, and how it was dealt with at the time. What you say at the Forum or any information that you give us about your time in care, will be your testimony. This will be in your own words and at your own pace. Please know that we will listen to any experiences you want to tell us about -whatever they are.
Sharing your experiences of institutional care as a child in Scotland, is not limited to attending a hearing. There are other options for you to do this. We will work to ensure that you can provide your testimony in the way that best suits you.
The job of the Forum is not to investigate allegations against specific individuals. We are not able to follow up on individual allegations about abuse; however, we will help anyone who wants to report allegations about abuse to the police. This is when you say that you think someone has committed a crime against you or against someone else. No individuals or institutions will be named in any reports unless their names are already known to the public.
The law says that you can say what you like at the Forum about your time in institutional care even if it includes making allegations against other people. We will not interrupt you and we will accept what you say. We will not investigate what you tell us. The hearing is not like a court. It is not formal and there are no set rules. Lawyers do not take part. We are not an Inquiry.
We cannot access your records for you, but we can guide you towards people who can help you to do this.
The Forum is not a support agency. We can help you contact people who offer specialist advice and guidance. They will discuss what coming to the Forum may mean for you. You can find out more about some of the services out there in our advice and guidance section, or by contacting us.
If you decide to take part in the Forum, we will make sure you are not out of pocket. We will arrange or reimburse travel and you may be entitled to an allowance for meals depending on how far you are coming from.
The Forum will run until July 2017.
You will have two hours at the Forum to tell two Forum Members about your experiences. It is up to you if you want to use the full two hours.