Yesterday 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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2012/10/31/when-i-left-care-they-said-i-was-a-great-survivor/#comments
“I WAS THERE. WAS IN HOMELEA FIRST DID THINK I ESCAPED THE ABUSE. THEN I GOT TO WOODEND GOT MY FIRST KICKIN 3 HOURS LATER. NOSE BROCKEN 3 RIBS AND WRIST. THEY DIDNT BOTHER WITH A DR. JUST BANGED ME UP 4 3 WEEKS. I WAS 12 YEARS OLD”
“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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2013/02/24/abuse-in-oaklands-childrens-home-or-wood-end-assessment-centre/#sthash.U67V82wp.dpuf
“Searches in underwear in their sports hall ……where usually done after visits on Sunday to prevent contraband – See more at: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2009/05/11/lost-in-the-woods-end/#comments
“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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2009/05/11/lost-in-the-woods-end/#comments
“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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2013/02/24/abuse-in-oaklands-childrens-home-or-wood-end-assessment-centre/#sthash.U67V82wp.dpuf
“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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2013/02/24/abuse-in-oaklands-childrens-home-or-wood-end-assessment-centre/#sthash.U67V82wp.dpuf
“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: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2013/02/24/abuse-in-oaklands-childrens-home-or-wood-end-assessment-centre/#sthash.U67V82wp.dpuf