Sexual abuse is the tip of a tipping iceberg.

Lemn-Sissay-by-Rankin.jpgYesterday a story broke about police enquiries into Woodend Assessment centre  in The Leigh Reporter. Mysteriously the story has now been taken down. But it’s in The Daily Mail.  Is it  a coincidence that you can’t find any official record of Woodend Assessment Centre online. Nor that it was shut down.  Is it a coincidence that you can’t find any record of many of the children’s homes of Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council. Why were they shut down?  My childhood files of eighteen years in the care system have gone missing. Is that a coincidence too?

In 95 I made a BBC Television documentary called Internal Flight , which featured my time in Wood End Assessment Centre where as a child  I was  imprisoned for a year and systematically strip searched.  Norman Mills my social  worker at the time  told me on record that he fought to keep them from putting me in there.   In 2010 I made a BBC radio documentary called Child of the State. A  residential social worker tells me for the first time why I was wrongfully put in there. She  says  what I did was one of the “it was the biggest statement any young person in care has made in my 32 years working and I just thought it was brilliant””. Imprisoned for a year.  I had no family so nobody to complain on my behalf. I was a child. (Click this link to see why children’s homes close and wholesale fostering begins.)

I’ve recalled Woodend in BBC film on BBC radio and in blogs. See some of those blogs here.     Sexual abuse is just one form of abuse.  It’s the tip of a tipping iceberg. Most of the abuse isn’t sexual at all.    Most victims just want to bury what happened. And many more blame themselves.  Below  are just a few comments by the few that find my blog. Today at time of writing I received this:  Submitted on 2014/09/16 at 11:48 am  “I was in both oaklands and wood end. Neither place left me with happy memories. I will be speaking to the police about wood end today. Some horrible individuals working for wood end during my stays there.”   

I should approach the police too shouldn’t I?  Isn’t wrongful imprisonment of a child actionable?   As you read the following messages remember that they were  children:

“I was in Woodend in 73 I was 12 at the time, I spent 6 months there, the staff were bad and I always remember one lad called “Rabbit” (nickname) Being punched in the throat and he couldn’t breathe or move and he was dragged out the room by his hair, just for answering back. – See more at:


“Remember woodend like yesterday . And remember jumping out of a high-floored bedroom window over barbed wire and running down a motorway for 24 hrs. .Yes there was bullying from the staff .Only took them 13 hrs or thereabouts to start beating me about that time .Got caught me and a friend in there .came back and remember that fat man bullying person he was , cane me god knows how many times until my ass bled .And then got beat up by the night watchman .Not forgetting the food you was forced to eat !” – See more at:

“Searches in underwear in their sports hall ……where usually done after visits on Sunday to prevent contraband – See more at:

“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 strenuous PE whilst suffering from jaundice” – See more at:

“I was in woodend many years ago I remember the kicking you would get if you stepped out of line the member of staff I remember the most was an art’s teacher who had a triumph stag he was ok with me “- See more at:

“I was at Woodend between 1979 and 1981 Mr Mackey was a bully, I got my first kicking on my second day there, one of many. I was forced to strip and had my genitals and rectum fondled and examined ( that’s what he called it ). Once refused to eat my porridge because I didn’t like the pink packets of low calorie sugar they used, I wanted some proper sugar. so once the hall was cleared I was held behind and had my face pushed into the porridge and held there until I agreed to eat it. My face was marked for about 2 weeks.
Got into an almighty row with Mr Mackey, a few hours after my case conference was heard, as I was told I could speak to my mum before she left, they never let me see her.. He pushed me against the corridor wall outside his office and held me there by my testicles squeezing them harder and harder, it seemed to last a life time, It made me vomit all over his jacket, to which I was given a good stomach punch which left me on the floor crying and in agony.. The following day Mr Mackey told me I would never see my home again or my parents should I tell anyone what had happened, he said he could keep me in care forever, I believed him, I was 14 and non the wiser. Throughout my stays at Woodened I was made to strip, had my genitals fondled and was punched or beaten at least once a week.. I went from Woodend to St Thomas More at birkale Southport..
Things there were not as regimental as Woodend but the abuse was worse, regular body checks by one member of staff, included having you genitals played with and a finger or two inserted into your rectum.
I am hoping to make a claim against Wigan MBC and the Catholic church regarding this, but keep hitting brick walls as most solicitors claim it has timed out or tell me I need at least 5 to 8 thousand pounds for them to take the case on. Also contacted Merseyside police to reopen their investigation from the early 1990′s, but they are reluctant to do anything.
Any help or advice out there would be brilliant.” – See more at:

“I was there and yes I remember all the thugs like Mr mills! if the police investigated the place I have never been spoken to about it so how can that be an investigation? Holme lea at boothstown was a pedophiles playground I remember it only to well!”  – See more at:

18 thoughts on “Sexual abuse is the tip of a tipping iceberg.

  1. You ask if you should go to the police- if you can do it and be safe then I’d say yes, make sure you’re supported and safe, though. And speak to them on your own terms, too, don’t be pushed into anything you don’t want. It can reawaken past troubles. I speak from experience. Brave soul, your priority is your own wellbeing.

  2. This country is stuck in the 18th century
    These children including Lemn Sissay deserve to be heard and apologised to and compensated after the CHILD ABUSERS are prosecuted and sent to prison for what they did in these Children’s “Homes”
    Lenm Sissay is a major Voice in fighting for the rights of Children in Care which is admirable considering his personal suffering resulting from the so called Care he received as a Child.

    • Keep up the good work. I can confirm abusers and liars still work at wigan council and they emotionally abuse vulnerable families to prevent anyone seeing the mental scars!!
      I was emotionally abused and my mental health lied about in 2015 and wasn’t allowed counselling after my partner committed suicide.
      The truth will come out one day and these bullies will be brought to justice because they have blood on their hands.
      Take care and stay strong.

  3. I was in Woodend beginning of 90’s just before they changed name still did nothing to change behaviour of staff and social workers. Bullying, intimidation, lies were the norm from them. Try to tell people, basically ignored. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront

  4. Thankyou for your courage heart is breaking for you and all the other innocent abused. I thanked Samantha Morton for speaking out about her abuse in a children’s home. It is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. I speak from experience too. Samantha Morton said its a life sentence even when survivors go on to make a positive difference in this world… its always lurking around somewhere…only by speaking out can anything begin to be done about this horrific crimes that shatter young peoples lives and spirits….

  5. Lemn – we haven’t exactly seen eye to eye over Woodend and had some robust discussions about the place but you did publish my counter responses . However I immediately contacted GM Police after reading your blog offering my services .

    I wish I had seen it earlier , probably as I thought it was morbid and negative doing google searches on the place .

  6. My name is Ricky and I am a victim of childhood abuse from the 1970’s at the tender age of 14 and would like to share my story with you in the hope that you may take my case on.
    In 1976 I was arrested and charged with shoplifting some toys from a local store, the court decided that I should be assessed before taking further action and I was to be taken straight from the juvenile court and taken to Woodend Assessment Centre in Atherton, Wigan for 6 weeks.
    I was taken there by a driver who was employed by Northampton Social Services and I experienced my first traumatic moment. The driver brought me some cigarettes and sweets and started to play with my private parts and told me to play with his. Due to past experiences as I was abused by a family member (who has now passed over) and a local neighbour, I was not scared just thought it was normal. However, halfway to Woodend he stopped in a lorry park and took me into the men’s toilet and told me to take down my trousers, he then forced his penis inside me which made me bleed, it was very painful and I tried to cry out but he put his hand over my mouth to prevent this happening. I was so scared my whole life flashed before my eyes and he said “if you speak of this I will hurt you and your family, also I will be collecting you in 6 weeks’ time “. He then put me back into his car and continued to our destination.
    I was greeted by a stern looking man who petrified me; the driver signed me in and then left me. The man told me, “you are with us now and in here you are just a number and if you step out of line once you will be punished”. He also informed me that all the staff should be called sir or madam and he only used my surname to address me. I was then taken to a bathroom where I was stripped naked and put into a bath where he cut my fingers and toe nails. Once I had finished bathing he told me to open my mouth and close my eyes, in which he preceded to put his penis in my mouth. I felt like I was going to choke to death especially when this fluid came from his penis and down my throat, it tasted disgusting. Thoughts were racing through my mind, will I ever go back to my mother or will I die here. I felt so alone and frightened and just wanted to go home.
    Afterwards I was taken to my bedroom which was just a room with a bed in it. The door had a small key hole in and a buzzer on the wall, I was told if I used the buzzer more than once in the night I would be punished.
    Later I was taken to meet the other boys who were staying there. I was taken back a bit when the boys spoke as they all had different accents from me, I had only heard a Northamptonshire accent before, there were boys from Liverpool, Manchester and Wigan. I could tell straight away they did not like me and all because I spoke differently from them.
    For the next six weeks I was beaten by other the boys and also members of staff and at one point knocked unconscious for over 24 hours by the maths teacher who smashed my head against the black board. This was done because I found the subject he was teaching hard partly due to the fact that I struggled to understand his accent and didn’t know what he was saying. At no point was I given any medical treatment and no doctor was called in to check me over and ensure I was ok.
    I was also sexually abused by the night watchman and witnessed beatings to other boys it was a very cruel regime. At regular periods several members of staff would take us to the gym and beat us as a punishment. All you could hear was the anger coming from them and cries of pain from the boys being beaten.
    I tried my best to be good for the six weeks I was there hoping and praying that I would return home to my mother soon but it was to no avail. As he promised the same man who took me to Woodend picked me up and took me back to Northampton, where he again touched me but thankfully didn’t repeat the awful toilet experience and told me that I was never to speak about this to anyone as he knew where my family lived.
    I was taken back to Juvenile court where the report that was compiled at Woodend (which I have a copy of), which is so condescending, no mention of the abuse I suffered by their hands, it was recommended that I shouldn’t return to the family home and should be placed in the care of the local authorities. The court acted on this recommendation and sent me to St. Johns school in Tiffield where I stayed until I was 16. Though I was not sexually abused at St John’s the physical abuse continued not just by staff but I was also bullied by the other boys. I feel had this abuse not happened I would have never been put into care. I would have been well behaved and been able to return to my Mother after the 6 weeks was up at Woodend. I hold whoever wrote that report responsible for incarcerating me into a care for nothing.
    I feel I was treated very harshly being subjected to being removed from my mother and family and placed into an alien environment then into care for stealing a dinky toy, felt tip pens and some jumping puppets plus a pifco fan and battery’s I did not deserve to be abused sexually, mentally and physically for such a petty crime.
    I am now 51 but for the past 37 years I have lived in fear and pain, I have been in and out of hospital after trying to commit suicide, I am unable to bond with males and all of my relationships have broken down due my insecurities.
    Four years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar one but have suffered mental illness all through my adult life. I sometimes wonder if I actually have bipolar or did I sustain a head injury while in care? These questions still need to be answered and I am currently under a neurosurgeon investigating this further.
    I took this to Greater Manchester Police back in the 1990’s when they started investigating child abuse at Woodend but was told that it wasn’t in the public interest to take my case any further. Last year the investigation was re opened by Greater Manchester Police and I was asked to give a statement. However, again my case was dropped, this time through lack of evidence but they never gave me any further detail. As you can imagine I was devastated to have my hopes raised that justice would be done and I could finally get closure only to be let down again. There were 35 reported cases against Woodend in this recent police investigation but only 5 are now still ongoing, this isn’t very encouraging that any arrests will be made.
    I have been fighting this for so long now and with no help from the police or council, however, again I have some hope that the end maybe in sight as just recently for the first time the Chief Executive of Wigan County Council spoke out and apologised publically to the victims of Woodend. I had a conference call with her recently (this was recorded with Ms Hall’s permission), where she apologised to me personally and she asked me “what can Wiggin Council do to help you” and to put in a claim against them. She has also offered me some counselling for the trauma I have suffered she said “she was told it was like a little Coldiz in Woodend” and I have to agree with her it was.
    At present I don’t have a lawyer acting for me, I do have a rape crises officer dealing with my case at Serenity in Northampton, her name is Gillian O’Leary, and she is applying for compensation from CICA on my behalf. But to be honest the best compensation would be to see justice done and bring the abusers to trial. So I could tell them face to face how they made me feel and what pain and suffering they have caused me over the past 37 years.
    However, a financial settlement would help me rebuild my life and to get a proper education which I missed out on, though it will never take away the pain and nightmares that they have caused me to have.
    I would like to know if there is a willing solicitor to take on my case and help me achieve my goal of Justice not only for me but show all survivors of this type of abuse to show there is light at the end of the tunnel.
    I have all my records from the County Council of Northampton showing details of the transfer to Wigan, I also have my assessment from Woodend and all my Social Services reports. In my opinion Northampton and Wigan County Council are responsible for these crimes, even if they can’t bring the perpetrators to trial. I therefore, would like to file a claim against both Councils for the pain and suffering I have had to endure over the last 37 years. I have medical records which prove this. I lay no blame on Donna Hall she was not in office when these crimes was committed and I am so thankful for all she is doing to help me and other abuse victims of Woodend. Donna has offered me some form of counselling and has advised me to put in a claim against the Wigan county council. Wigan Cllr Gareth Fairhurst has spoken to me on the phone and he would like all the victims to contact him , we are taking this to Downing Street we are not going to be swept under the carpet again you can contact him direct via his blog or the contact details below .Tel: 01257 42 32 12


    Twitter: cllrgwfairhurst


    • I was emotionally abused by wigan council, social workers and Cafcass in 2015 after my partner committed suicide and my daughter put my sons into care.
      Emotional abuse is harder to prove and I’ve been falsely diagnosed with a mystery mental illness, that can’t be found or cured and that is wigan’s excuse why my sons can’t live with me.
      My former GP lied in the family court and I wasn’t allowed counselling and couldn’t prove how well I’ve coped with my life.
      Don’t trust Donna hall because she knows this is happening and won’t let my concerns be investigated Independantly.
      She was adopted herself and uses her treatment in the care system as her excuse how well wigan council are doing!
      Take care and stay strong.
      Justice will be seen one day.

        • Thank you Lemn for bringing abuse to the attention of others.
          How did you get the police to investigate your complaints?
          I want to claim for PTSD after being emotionally abused by wigan council but their mental health teams are threatening to section me if I don’t agree to mental illnesses that I know I do not suffer from.
          Were you ever threatened, or has too much time passed and a different team of social wiorkers are at wigan but with the same barbaric training?
          I think of you everyday and feel proud that you are doing so well after suffering in care.
          I hope you get justice and the truth comes out soon.
          That is what we all want and together we can get it!
          Keep up the good work.
          I would love to tell you what happened to me and my sons and hopefully you would be able to let other people know that abuse still happens at the hands of wigan council but it’s emotional abuse and they think it’s invisible.
          Cafcass need removing as children’s guardians because they aren’t independent but actually more of a danger to children in care.
          Thank you

  7. Hi, I am not a lawyer, but I can help you prepare and present your case for free: email me at:

    Do not hire a lawyer to present your case, they work for and are agents of the court and if they help you they will lose their license to practice – most lawyers are masons, child abuse rings are run by masons and hence you will get no help there. You should spend time learning the law, most of it is written in the King James Bible, the law is made by God not man and completed in the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    If you decide to fight them alone – you must only use the English Constitution (EC) – which is the real law in the UK (established and finalised by the end of the 1700’s)- all the legal statues and acts the elite use to kidnap children into care homes and prevent investigation are contrary to the EC and hence of no effect – but you need to know the EC to apply in court or they will pull the wool over the judges eyes – the EC can be found here:

    The English Constitution is the King James Bibles and six documents in completion:

    1 – The King James Bible (1611)
    2 – The Queen Coronation Oath (1689)
    3 – The Act of Settlement (1701)
    4 – Bill of Rights (1689)
    5 – Petition of Rights (1628)
    6 – Acts of Union (1707)
    7 – The Magna Carta (1215)

    Remember the golden rule: ANYTHING legislated AFTER the constitution was completed in 1707 that is contrary or adds or subtracts from the constitution is VOID and NULL and of no effect whether it is done by a King or Queen, case law, EU legislation or Parliamentary Act or Statute legislation – it is an act of Treason punishable by the death penalty. The constitution is the constitution because the Acts and Statutes that established the constitution state in each document the word ‘forever or ever’ or similar words to the same effect to verify clearly that these documents are forever and cannot be changed by any subsequent King or Queen, case law, EU legislation or Parliamentary Act or Statute legislation.

    You will note that at school your were NEVER taught the law – why because the Queen and her Illuminati bloodline do not want us knowing the law or they cannot continue to commit their crimes and get away with any longer.

    God bless you all who will fight for the truth.
    [KJV] Psalm 119:142 …thy law is the truth.
    [KJV] John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

  8. Can I get justice for me and my children who were taken in to care and then my two daughters were sexually abused by Muslim men some of whom have been convicted. My daughters haven’t been able to take police action as they find it all so painful. They have spoke with the police and social services are aware of what happened to them and others.the council took my children of me as my husband passed and I turned to drugs so they took my children they asked me to go into detox at the court so I did and the council got an interium care order and when i was half way through my detox and we were back in court but I asked would they adjourn until I had finished my detox but no they were granted a full care order.I can’t believe they said I wasn’t capable of looking after my children and keeping them safe and my children suffered in there so called care.please is there anything we can do to get compensation from the council in Oxford

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