Lost in the Woods End.



Twenty or so  years ago I met a guy called David Akinsanya at The Childrens Legal Centre in Islington. I was in an assessment centre in a small Lancashire town called Atherton.  It was the final home offered to me by the social services after 17 years in their care.  A stranger visited me there.   I’d written too Margaret after seeing a newspaper article about a group she ran in Manchester called Black and in Care. 

Wood End Assesment Centre was like a prison.  As my then social worker admitted on a
television programme made many years later  I “shouldn’t have been there.”  After each visit from Margaret  which took place in the sports hall I was strip searched.   I was a child that had been in care for seventeen years is all.  It was a harrowing institution. We had to walk the corridors in size order.

Black and In Care was a national group run from The Childrens Legal Centre in Islington that identified a national pattern in the abuse of young black children in care.  Margaret ran the Manchester wing.  She brought me grapes and talked  “There are many others like us” she said.  I couldn’t actually believe that my experience was part of something larger  but
in the back of my mind I knew it.

The Assesment centre was run like a prison but  most attendees had the right to go see their parents of a weekend and most were out within a few weeks as it was used mainly
as a remand centre for children waiting to go to court.  I  slept amongst  murderers and robbers alike. But as I had no family and was there as a child in care  they simply kept me there and didn’t tell me that I had the right to leave for respite.  Margaret got me a trip to London.  The only weekend in the six months that I was free of the place.

The Childrens Legal Centre is where I met David Akinsanya. He was in the documentary  too. It  was about the collected experiences of the various black children in care who were now coming into adolescence.   When I returned from the weekend I was strip searched.

David Akinsanya is on the radio this morning, on Andrew Marr’s Start The Week.  Since leaving care David became a television producer for BBC and has been for twenty years
since recently going freelance.  He lives on a barge only minutes from where I now live in London.   Tonight is the beginning of his three part series “find me a family which is part of Channel Fours Forgotten Children Series.  He will have unparalleled access to the
adoption process and to childrens homes.  Also tonight Rageh Omar will be presenting  the first of a series on children in care.


18 thoughts on “Lost in the Woods End.

  1. Hi. When were you placed there? I was there for 6 months in 1986 in Beech House. My mother was an alcoholic and couldn’t cope and I spent all my childhood in care too, and that was my final place until they found me somewhere better. I was 13 when I was placed there.

    • Good question Dylan. I think i was there in 1984/5 but I need to see my files for confirmation. I was there for a year. I wasn’t on remand. I was there as a child in care. I proved it in a BBC radio documentary.

  2. I’m not really sure if people were free to go at weekends ….the whole point of the place was to make sure people didn’t escape and were delivered to the Courts for Borstal , Detention Centres ….more tougher and dangerous places than Woodend ….but it was preferable to Care Orders and waiting for a place in a tough Community Home like Redbank …..the old approved schools .

    However having said that they may have had home leave after case conferences at Woodend and a place allocated at the likes of Redbank and my memory is going to be sketchy after 35 yrs !

    I really found your articles and film interesting …much food for thought but depressing . That place certainly scared a very mixed up petty thief and truant straight ….one lad used to taunt me back at school …people wondered why I didn’t retaliate …thought I was either scared or a coward …..it wasn’t ….I knew of people being sent back on home trial ….and the thought of induction and seeing certain staff again wasn’t pleasant

    • Some people were free to go at weekends. Remember that those people on remand were innocent until proven guilty and then there were the children like myself who had no criminal record and who were not awaiting any trail but where placed in there for reasons that were beyond us. My radio documentary Child of The State gets to the bottom of it. And those in the care system were definitely given weekend leave. But becasue I had no family to go to I was not even told that I should’ve had leave. I was placed in there on recommendation by Jon Mills of Oaklands Childrens Home against the wishes of my own social worker. I remember INDUCTION please remind me what it was. Cheers Lemn

      • Induction – as I described – made to have a bath , polish up your shoes – interviewed by the matron – any medical / physical problems – your clothes took off you and laundered – then all the tests over the next few days – interviewed by the psychologist – I’m not really sure if assessment at Woodend was needed in your case – surely there’d be records / reports etc after all that time ?

  3. also I met someone 6 yrs later who’d been there …and told they’d toned down all the regimentation ….apparently it didn’t really work ….Searches in underwear in their sports hall ……where usually done after visits on Sunday to prevent contraband

    • It wasn’t toned down because it didn’t work. It was toned down because it was bad practise and because policy was starting to turn against it. Pin down etc.

  4. sorry should have put things better – the argument they used for marching everyone about in size order under very close supervision was that there was no bars on the windows ….and there was no barbed wire and high walls outside – people did try and escape too – usually when they’d football games but many got caught ….if they did get away …they were living on their wits , and didn’t last that long …a few days maybe ? …..the Police were bound to get them .

    If they’d been allocated a community home / school and were waiting for a place …they might have had leave …but I think ? it was every fortnight ?

    You were relatively safe given the murderers and the serious hard cases who thought it was Butlins …and there was little or no abuse by staff …some on reflection were absolutely great ….some lads used to write when they left or came to visit even

    …one lad got up on a classroom table to launch himself through the classroom window …he got dragged out …the scouse teacher said so you like going through windows do you ? and put him through a vestibule type window in the corridopr …think there was some blood , he was patched up …next day …I think we were told – We’d not seen anything ….teaching us a moral lesson maybe ? ….that certain teacher definitely didn’t want people coming back after home trials ….we had to shout out – Keep your nose clean ….the lesser hardened criminal types meant it too .

    I did see someone try and escape through windows …one got went through the windows of the association room and started killing animals / birds etc on the square flanked by another corridor .

    Kids did really want to be sentenced …I suppose it’s more simple, straightforward and certain …you do crime , and you’re punished – rather than carrying on in care till you are 18 though living a relatively non institutionalised normal life working , when you’ve not had any trouble since you were say 14 …was very confusing as you’d sort of outgrown those places once you’d toughened up to / adapted to them .

    ….I can see why people have had problems being all over the place and had ended up in adult institutions …a perverse ” career ” ? ….when leaving those sort of places …it’s a chapter that wants to be firmly shut and forget about , left in the past …..to a large degree ! …maybe they secretly liked all that control and order .

    The ex Army Officer you’ve mentioned sounds like the Headmaster personally I found him to be great ….there was a lot of staff that certainly didn’t want people in the care system , getting into trouble with the police ending up borstals , detention centres etc …..but there was another significant element that wanted people in Community Homes / Schools

    The name Mr Sharples does ring a bell …I’m not surprised he became deputy ….he was right ….the system is geared up for thickies but that’s not to say they all agreed with it ….one teacher said these sort of places are full of low intelligence / literacy types ….i.e. you’d have nothing in common with them …and stay away from old associates / friends bit like prisoners on parole ?

    Four weeks or so of that place would have been enough for you , playing up and being rebellious ….and what you’d done was absolutely nothing in comparison to the other inmates .

    The other name that people remembered was Basket Head Benny – Mr Benson ….very , very strange accent …one of the senior members of staff .

    • You say “the argument they used for marching everyone about in size order under very close supervision was that there was no bars on the windows …”. I was a child in care and had no reason to be marched anywhere and no reason for bars on windows. You say there was no barbed wire or high walls. I didn’t say there was. There was a perimeter fence kept about a mile away and an alarm went off if anyone ran away. You say that I was “relatively safe given the murderers and the serious hard cases who thought it was Butlins.” I had no reason to be relatively safe as I was shouldn’t have been there. What proof do you have of any child saying it was “like Butlins”. You say there was “little or no abuse by staff” . I ask “what do you define as “little abuse”. You say ” some on reflection were absolutely great”. On what basis were some staff “absolutely great”. You say “some lads used to write when they left or came to visit” What proof do you have of this? And how does this vindicate any little abuse that occured?

      You say “…one lad got up on a classroom table to launch himself through the classroom window …he got dragged out …the scouse teacher said so you like going through windows do you ? and put him through a vestibule type window in the corridopr …think there was some blood , he was patched up …next day …” is this what you mean by “little abuse”.

      You say “We’d not seen anything ….teaching us a moral lesson maybe ? ….that certain teacher definitely didn’t want people coming back after home trials ….we had to shout out – Keep your nose clean ….the lesser hardened criminal types meant it too.” I say on what level is pushing a child through a window a moral lesson? is this apractise endorsed by Wigan Social Services and who was the staff member who did it and who was the child.

      You say “Kids did really want to be sentenced …I suppose it’s more simple, straightforward and certain …you do crime , and you’re punished – rather than carrying on in care till you are 18″ but earlier in your mail you said the kids in wood end thought it was butlins then you say ” though living a relatively non institutionalised normal life working , when you’ve not had any trouble since you were say 14 …was very confusing as you’d sort of outgrown those places once you’d toughened up to / adapted to them. ” Like i said I was not in Wood end for any legal or criminal reason so why would I want to be toughened up. And I would ask you what is “toughening up? Is it a new policy by the social services.

      When speaking of the young people in those institutions you say “….I can see why people have had problems being all over the place and had ended up in adult institutions …a perverse ” career ” ? ….when leaving those sort of places …it’s a chapter that wants to be firmly shut and forget about , left in the past …..to a large degree ! …maybe they secretly liked all that control and order .”. Your comment about children “maybe they secretly like al that control and order” is Orwellian and extremely sad to hear. It says more of your experience than of theres. Certainly not mine.

      You say “The ex Army Officer you’ve mentioned sounds like the Headmaster personally I found him to be great …”. I find this extremely strange as Mr Mackey was hardly visible to any of us in Wood End Assessment Centre. In fact many of us only saw him when and if there was a disciplinary procedure. I remember a culture of fear of him. I should also say that yesterday someone contacted me from Wigan Social Services to tell me how many of the administrators were afraid of him. it flies in the face of your statement that he “was great”. You also say “The name Mr Sharples does ring a bell …I’m not surprised he became deputy ….he was right ….the system is geared up for thickies ….one teacher said these sort of places are full of low intelligence / literacy types ….i.e. you’d have nothing in common with them …and stay away from old associates / friends bit like prisoners on parole ? “. I say “thickies” and “low intelligence/literacy types” is not how I would describe the children. You conclude “Four weeks or so of that place would have been enough for you , playing up and being rebellious ….and what you’d done was absolutely nothing in comparison to the other inmates .”. What is it that I “done”. Please enlighten me to what dates you were in Wood End Assessment Centre. I was in around 198/4/5

      • I’ll answer your points – I could have put things better / elabourated / expanded

        I agree it was totally wrong to put you in a system which was lets face it – geared up for criminal types – I agree with your social worker in that filmed interview – it was too authoritarian …there appears to be an element of neurotic control freakery with those ” in charge ”

        I didn’t know too much about perimeter fences as in tall ones – you could see farm type barbed wire type fences from classrooms – if there was escape attempts it was when you were taken out to play football – you were given kit then you went in a shed – and told to grab any old pair of boots .

        I didn’t know about alarms going off …that was interesting – I remember being driven there by a social worker from the Social Services office after my magistrates court appearance and being told if I got in trouble again – I’d never get a job when leaving school …that did frighten me …if I recall correctly …the car went uphill through a big council estate called Hag Fold .

        I didn’t mean anything personally – I was just trying to play devils advocate as to how they in the corridors of power would think . That’s not to say I condone anything at all .

        The four weeks at the most , was a worst , worst case scenario – the wrong one obviously – I’d surmise that someone didn’t like you or your apparent ! attitude and decided to teach you a ” lesson ” …As for assessment at Woodend – I’d imagine that could have been done in a fortnight or less – a case conference arranged and you’d be sent to another place – it seems that you were regretably ” lost ” in the kafkaesque system .

        Personally I don’t think you were then …really that different from anyone that age – part of growing up …rites of passage etc .

        Yes I stand by my point that some children did think the place was like Butlins ……if they’d been on a Young Prisoners Wing in a adult prison , or been to Detention Centre or Borstal …they would think Woodend was relatively ! soft …they’ve toughened up and / or been instutionalised . Let’s just say I’ve very good memory from talking to other children at the time .

        I felt I had to make a point about some staff being great ….I have read horror stories about these sort of places …however in my case it would be very unfair to dismiss Woodend staff as a bunch of sadistic bullies and / or perverts …hence the points I made

        OK examples – as to how some of the staff were great – I was taught as to how to write covering letters for job applications …in one instance I got on a shortlist for 40 when 800 applied …or 400 for 10-12 vacancies

        Some were really great when I was very upset – though that Mr Sharples I think ? humilated me in front of others saying ” does your head hurt ” making out I was like a subnormal case …..however there was a Scouse teacher that made me take those tests again …as I’d originally come out as a real thickie re results ….though my IQ is around 130 or so …before I went on home trial …he said you go into Further Education …your mates will call you ” Prof ” but take no notice – no one at school had done that ..made me believe in myself …he said stay away from that Polish origin mate of yours …..coming out of there …I’d to blank mates of mine which I didn’t enjoy …but you know

        The guy I mentioned was called Mr Neil a former car racing driver – bit of athlete runner too …yes it was known that a former inmate used to write to him – you don’t know what sort of life he’d had – some teachers could be like father figures maybe better than their biological fathers or reluctant step fathers ? – he used to donate his own fags for the lads over 16

        …some were genuine people who wanted to ” make a difference ” …though I agree with you the system was at fault …and not always that well run .

        I didn’t say there was little abuse – that was the only abuse that I saw that concerned me – if I remember rightly I think the lad concerned was moved away – maybe his parents put a complaint in – who knows ?

        I’ll explain the bit about control and order – I felt sorry to read about the lad that committed suicide and it was sad to read about the funeral that Mr Sharples attended – some of the children would be independent and mature – well beyond their years but in some other ways not so – because everything is organised done for them ……..I’m just saying it’s a shame …not necessarily condoning things .

        OK – the ex military officer – yes I did see him – and remember seeing him before waiting for my mam to take me home on the buses on the friday and most importantly – when Mr Neill saw the mark on my lip where I’d been assualted by that lad from Skem when having that supervised bath , that ex military type was called for – as it would be disciplinary procedure ? – Yes I thought he was great because of how he instantly dealt with that bully ….though yes he could have been more discreet – I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree there

        I probably didn’t explain the bit about the system being geared up for thickies properly – it’s more of a case of a system geared to deal with a general level of mediocrity – that’s not to say …everyone was thick whilst I was in there – some certainly were but not all – and yes there’s different sorts of intelligence – devious cunning types etc

      • I was in there towards the end of the previous decade . I have to be careful what I say in the public domain …as people will join the dots as it were .

        Also I did contact a solicitor that deals with these sort of cases – I offered my services as at witness re the lad that was pushed through a window after his escape attempt and discussed being made to do stenous PE whilst suffering from jaundice – the problem was making a case ” stick” after such a long time – having to play devils advocate as to how Wigan Social Services would contest the case – they’re not likely to stick the white flag up – certain staff would no longer be with us – problematic

  5. sorry the other bit was someone belligerently mercilessly taunting me at school …and the other lads couldn’t believe how I took it ….the thought of being driven back by a social worker , made to have a bath and made to wear their clothes just seemed so pathetic and shameful had I got into trouble at school …it was a uniform and it wasn’t …i.e. not everyone looked the same …but the clothes were similar-ish and certainly ones never seem outside that you could buy ….have a look at the Scum film …4737 Carlin etc

    I later met up with that same lad at nightschool he was great with me , must have realised or developed some respect for me for taking said abuse ….one of the Woodend teachers …another scouser said me and this lad from Oldham were the most intelligent ones there …encouraged me to do this sort of thing …made me believe in myself …a bit

    • Yes I watched Scum. I think it came out at around the same time. it was a detention centre if I remember right. maybe a prison even.

      • Scum was based on the Borstal system …very well researched …options for naughty boys usually were probation , then Detention Centres , the worst punishment was Borstal …many would rather do prison housed in a Young Prisioners wing

        ” Scum is a 1979 British crime drama film directed by Alan Clarke, portraying the brutality of life inside a British borstal. The script was originally made for the BBC’s Play for Today strand in 1977, however due to the violence depicted, it was withdrawn from broadcast.[2] Two years later, director Alan Clarke and scriptwriter Roy Minton remade it as a film, first shown on Channel 4 in 1983.[2] By this time the borstal system had been reformed and eventually allowed the original TV version to be aired.

        The film tells the story of a young offender named Carlin as he arrives at the institution, and his rise through violence and self-protection to the top of the inmates’ pecking order, purely as a tool to survive. Beyond Carlin’s individual storyline, it is also cast as an indictment of the borstal system’s flaws with no attempt at rehabilitation. The warders and convicts alike are brutalised by the system. The film’s controversy was derived from its graphic depiction of racism, extreme violence, rape, suicide, many fights and very strong language.[3]

        Scum would be one of the most controversial British films of the early 1980s, but has since become regarded as a popular classic. “

  6. Woodend’s Postal Address was Everest Road , Atherton , Greater Manchester , M46 9NT …I’ll have to correct you …it’s now a private psychiatric hospital called The Spinney not The Jenny , ran by Partnerships in Care .

    The scouse teacher that put that would be escapee through that corridor window showed us how to put covering type letters together …I remember getting on the short list for vacancies out of 800 applicants once and 500 in another instance when released .

    There was a ex rugby league player there who’d played at Wembley in the 60’s as one of the staff . I don’t remember boys being physically abused ….the teachers and staff didn’t need to , they’d the authority and physical presence to just grab people , pin them to the wall and threaten them of the disciplinary consequences etc . Tough but fair .

    I do not recollect any instances of sexual abuse there .

    The ex military officer that ran the place …challenged this cocksure bully from Skemersdale called Watson …saying ” Come on , I’m a old man …fight me ” in the association room …that’s what he thought of bullying .

    I did end up leaving with jaundice …it wasn’t very nice having to do strenuous PE etc …before I went the Matron twisted everything round , saying we should be getting you to see a doctor …making I was selfish , only interested in getting out …I got the impression she didn’t want me to get a Home Trial …and she did not want my parents to make a official complaint

    Things later were flagged up …but the impression we got was don’t rock the boat otherwise things could get vindictive . .

    More of a case of my health issues during my stay , in hindsight not being handled well …but not necessarily maliciously

  7. You say ” I don’t remember boys being physically abused”. I do remember boys being physically abused. You don’t think being watched while you shower naked is sexual abuse then fine.
    You say ” I don’t remember boys being physically abused ….the teachers and staff didn’t need to , they’d the authority and physical presence to just grab people , pin them to the wall and threaten them of the disciplinary consequences etc . Tough but fair.” It was at their discretion and it was unfair and over done. And by the way it’s called Pin Down and it was later stopped nationally as bad practise.
    You say The ex military officer that ran the place …challenged this cocksure bully from Skemersdale called Watson …saying ” Come on , I’m a old man …fight me ” in the association room …that’s what he thought of bullying”
    You may think this is a satisfactory way for a man in leadership to deal with a boy in the care system. I don’t.

    You say “I did end up leaving with jaundice …it wasn’t very nice having to do strenuous PE etc …before I went the Matron twisted everything round , saying we should be getting you to see a doctor …making I was selfish , only interested in getting out …I got the impression she didn’t want me to get a Home Trial …and she did not want my parents to make a official complaint”. I say this is abuse form them to you and it is perverse.

    You say “Things later were flagged up …but the impression we got was don’t rock the boat otherwise things could get vindictive .” I say this is ruling by fear and that this is bullying and abusive.

    You say “More of a case of my health issues during my stay , in hindsight not being handled well …but not necessarily maliciously”. I say define malicious. I say you deserve more. I say children deserve more. What you describe sounds to me to be horrific. You may not agree. And that saddens me.

  8. Thanks for replying Lemn – if you want to PM me , feel free to do so

    I’ll answer your points – yes I agree you had little privacy & dignity , bar being behind a toilet cubicle door when you asked to go and ” sit on ” that’s it . The only rationale re Wigan Social Services would be is – that you’re not that important – to rid sense of self , be less self centered – I’m just playing devil’s advocate ! .

    Next one – showers – I agree to a point , I don’t think we were ever watched so closely in communal showers at school …sometimes you may have had two a day …we used household soap not hair shampoo – I didn’t know what my hair looked because I didn’t see myself in a mirror for 5 /6 weeks .
    Yes there may be ” unsavoury ” types that might get a kick out of watching youths / adolescent naked in the shower .

    What I forgot to mention , when I came in there – you were made to have a bath in front of everyone , you had to polish your shoes – the reasoning was in case you were due in court again , your clothes were taken off you and laundered , they said they had to shave some children’s heads because of lice .

    To say it was a shock to my system was an understatement – I naively / foolishlessly thought a care order meant a residential children’s home where you went to school etc with the ” other kids ” .

    You had to have a supervised bath every friday two boys in the bathroom in separate baths – If you needed a shave – one of their staff did it .

    Sorry I didn’t explain this well – what I saw wasn’t pin down by this definition – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search

    Pindown was a method of punishment used in children’s homes in Staffordshire, England in the 1980s. It involved locking children in rooms called “pindown rooms”, sometimes for periods of weeks or months, similar to a lockdown in prisons. The children were kept in solitary confinement with little furniture, no conversation and repetitive occupations.[1]

    What happened was like somebody grabbing someone by the collar or whatever , pushing them against a wall and threatening them of dire consequences – just like in normal ” civvy street ” life . It was over very quickly . One I remember doing it was a ex rugby league player who had played at Wembley in the cup final …on the lines of ” I’m known as a very nice man …but ” etc

    Hopefully ! without wishing to sound patronising – we were naughty boys – you were anything but , not having done any crime . I broke a 2 yr probation order – I was a bit out of control …though a few decent coppers said there was a lot of good in me …compared to similar kids they’d dealt with – one Detective Constable said – a term in a Preston children’s home would straighten you out , my mam was sweating that I didn’t get Detention Centre in court , the Probation Officer offered to take personal responsibility – stating DC would be fatal , the crimes etc that I’d got probation for – contributed to me being on the verge of a nervous breakdown , some months back and it was feared – I’d have another one

    I nearly had one in the first two weeks of Woodend – or at least was on the verge of one – they did ring my parents up , asking if I’d withdrawal symptoms from smoking and yes they did ask if I wanted a transfer to a home in Liverpool with a softer regime , even allowed to go to a ” civvy ” school …apparently …as I was that nervous and upset …I foolishlesly thought I’d be brave and stoical and stick it out – I also remember getting a pull yourself together lecture , you’re being very selfish from that Mr Mackie who has been mentioned …and a ex soldier called Mr McKenzie – on the lines of do you realise this is costing more than a public school – at the time – I’d have loved to have been at a public school !

    It was a mistake – consciously or subconsciously …I felt I needed to be in a low level psychiatric ward temporally ! – not being me , me – basking in the limelight – you just knew what was best for you .

    I just tried to get the best behaviour marks after that – and hoped and prayed for a home trial …which I thankfully got ! .

    The ex military officer handled the bully – ( he was the cock of Glenburn School in Skem and was on GBH charges ) well to a point – other kids said he went white – in a way it’s a good way to deal with a bully …however you do have a point about leadership ….it should have done in a corridor not in front of everyone in the association room – he later resented it , saying his brother would come to my parents house and sort me out for being a ” grass ” …my attitude was if it kicked off – call the Police – fortunately there was no come back .

    Re Jaundice – made to do stenous PE etc – I agree it is perverse – believe it not I went back to school with jaundice , they were reluctant to have me back …I can understand why – the Head of Year phoned my social worker and said there was a marked improvement in my behaviour – though in the court report it was stated I was generally amicable to school discipline …not bad , bad , bad …………….My Dad took me to the Doctors …so all that ” We’ll have to get you to a Doctor ” from the Matron is rubbish ….I got a medical certificate and I took it to the school as I didn’t want any trouble re attendence …so I agree about rule of fear …I was confined to bed and could only eat light stuff like chicken soup .

    In hindsight – the Matron seemingly didn’t want anything to come out about me having jaundice – As I say my parents were told in a way not to push it about that and the lad from Skem on serious violence charges .

  9. I was in that place 1985, Straight from court to there,taken by my social worker, I was placed i think in assessment/remand part of the house.
    On arrival it was strip down bare in front of one or two of the staff,jump in the bath whilst they help wash you, once hair was washed i always remember him with large jug of cold water which he poured over head to wash the soap out, your clothes taken off you laundered and folded in a pigeon hole type shelf, was made to wear horrible clothes,i remember my trousers being of the two tone type, black pumps, I remember they used to take us to Wigan baths all dressed up in these ridiculous clothes wearing same coats.
    I didnt like football so i used to do the garden duty or most times the gym training, the gym teacher was great with me,cant remember his name,big bloke oldish with gray beard and balding,genuinly nice bloke, But the rest were bastards, I remember the rugby player from wigan,dark hair stocky with mustach, I remember he used to dive head first like a rugby style tackle on some kids whilst they were sat in there chair watching tele if they were being a bit gobby, i was a smoker and they kept hold of your bacco or fags in a plastic box, you would go into a seperate small room with a smoking member of staff, Twice a day only, 1pm and 8pm i think was smoke time. It was hard place at first for someone young and new to the system,correct there was no bars on windows but there was security screws on the window which needed an allen type key to open it, I got friendly with one of the lads there and we herd that there was gonna be a charity mini marathon around the the area and some of us could go if we were the trusted ones, so two of us got our heads down and played ball for a few weeks to get on this marathon event, i remember we did one lap of the course out of i think it was two or even three to suss out where and when we could make a run for it and get away, we did just that, crossing farmers fields main roads housing estates etc catching fags and money off passers by for bus fare lol. We got to i think Leigh town centre by dark fall and about to board a bus for manchester and was nabbed by the police and taken back where we got a good clip around the ear hole, We must of looked stupid on the run because we had black shorts on that was way too big for us and a sky blue t shirt with Woodend in black letters acros the front haha..Anyway 3 weeks later i was moved to Wythenshaw to childrens home thankfully..I was in Woodend for approx 5 months…Grew up quick in there i tell ya..I never witnessed or herd of any sexual abuse in there but most of the staff were definitely bullies in one way or another, altho the gardening teacher cant remember his name dark short hair he was ok, firm spoken but fair, The headmaster i think Sharples was it? Big fat one, he pinned me up against the wall and had me by the throat/collor area on the morning i was leaving telling me of his anger that i had attempted to run away making them look foolish lol Anyway its all a part of my past that thankfully is over, i went through the care system in 3 homes after that before getting my own flat and sorting my life out..Gosh so many bad memories..I stumbled on this by accident funny enough, going through a tough patch at present and going through the court systems myself for abuse to me and my sister, the person is behind bars at present on remand waiting for sentencing so once thats happened i can move on and get my life back on track, was just thinking about woodend as had the past going around my head so thought ide see if anything online about the place.

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