DOZENS of survivors of alleged historic child abuse at a school for convalescent children took to George Square today in calls for justice.

Nearly 130 claims have been lodged with Thompson’s Solicitors over the alleged abuse. They now plan to sue Glasgow City Council over the claims after they were sent to Fornethy House School in Angus from the 1960s onwards.

The institution was gifted to Glasgow Corporation and opened in 1961 as a convalescent school for sick children, but last year, dozens of women came forward to reveal instances of the alleged abuse.

Glasgow Times:

Some former pupils claimed that children were slapped and punched; forced to stand in dark corridors if they had wet the bed and were not allowed to write home unless they copied it from a board.

Last week, the campaign revealed claims that the council told them records relating to their time at Fornethy House had been lost. Marion Reid, who launched the Fornethy House Residential School Survivors told the Sunday Mail that her stay at the residential school does not appear on any of her medical or school records.

Glasgow Times:

It is understood the women, who were sometimes as young as eight years old, were sent to the school to recover from bouts of illness but one survivor, who asked not to be named, said she did not recall ever feeling ill. She said: “I don’t remember feeling ill. My parents were evicted. I was there for a year but I’ve blocked it.”

Glasgow Times:

She alleged that children sent there were not allowed encouraged to make friends or write home. She added “I’ve come along today from England, on the train because when I heard about the protest I couldn’t not be here. I was a victim at eight years old - I’m a survivor.”

The group descended on the city chambers with placards, chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “We were just wee lassies” and walked laps around the building in an attempt to have their voices heard.

The woman added: “There’s something about us being able to have our voice heard. We didn’t have voices back then, we weren’t allowed to write home and say how bad it was. This is about having our voice now and being able to ask for our records to validate that we were there and that these things did happen to us.”

Many of the survivors who attended today felt a sense of healing in being there together.

The woman said: “It’s very emotional but it’s very healing because as a child, you were silenced and we’ve all got a little girl inside of us that suffered and was silenced. Meeting these women today allows us to be heard and that validates that the traumas we have suffered were real and that we’re no longer alone. We’re now being heard, we’re together and nobody can silence us.”

Glasgow Times:

The survivors are calling on Glasgow City Council for an apology and recognition that young children were sent to the school in the past as well as compensation and damages.

Sandra Toyer from Wellbeing Scotland attended today’s demonstration in solidarity with the survivors. She supports many of the women who were allegedly abused.

She said: “What we really want is for Glasgow City Council to come out from behind closed doors and admit that they sent girls there. They must have medical records, they must have education records so we really just want them to start opening up their archives and giving them some form of recognition. We’re all out here in support of them.”

“I think today has allowed the women a voice. For them all to come together is just wonderful to see. Hopefully they will get some kind of peace in their life.

Glasgow Times:

“When people come together and are able to talk about some of the things they’ve carried all of their life and to know that other people have probably suffered similar, it just allows them a voice. That connection with others has made such a difference.

“It’s to break that silence, the taboo that it wasn’t their shame, the shame should be laid at the doors of the perpetrators and the systems that protected them.”

Laura Conner, a partner from Thompson’s Solicitors who are supporting the women in legal action against the council also attended today’s demonstration.

She said: “We’re pursuing around 160 cases on behalf of survivors of Fornethy against Glasgow City Council. So far we’ve heard very little from them, other than to say they can’t find any records.

“We find this completely unacceptable. It cannot be possible that there is nothing existing in relation to Fornethy.

“I find it impossible to believe that there is nothing within any records at the council in relation to why they were placed there.

“One of the points that is most important to many survivors is understanding why they were there and understanding that is part of their journey to attempting to deal with the traumatic events which occurred and the illnesses they continue to suffer as a result.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council confirmed they had received claims and confirmed they were looking into them. The council previously told the Glasgow Times: “We have now received claims in connection with Fornethy House and are currently logging them on to our claims system so that they can be actioned and the claims substantiated.”

Glasgow Times:

The claims are also being investigated by Police Scotland. Detective inspector Mark Lamont, from Tayside Division, said: “Investigations into reports of non-recent child abuse can be complex and challenging and can take a significant time to investigate.
“Disclosures are often made many years after an incident took place and the passage of time can create challenges in tracing records and witnesses in order to progress enquiries.

“The investigation into the abuse at Fornethy house is ongoing and involves a number of victims.

“All reports of child abuse will be fully investigated and we are committed to bringing perpetrators to justice. I would encourage anybody who has been the victim of abuse, either recently or in the past, please come forward and report the matter to us.”