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Frequently asked questions

Below you will find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.  This list is not exhaustive and if your question is not answered here, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What We Are Not

You say in your booklet that you are not an Inquiry , but I know from reading in the newspapers about the Scottish Government’s recent work that there now is going to be an Inquiry – what can you tell me about it?

 


The Historical Child Abuse Inquiry officially began on 1st October.  You can find out more information about it here.  

Please remember that anyone who was in institutional care as a child can come to the National Confidential Forum  now , to be acknowledged and to tell of all or any experiences , whether good or bad , including abuse . Coming to the Forum does not prevent anyone from taking part in the Inquiry . The Forum offers a safe , non-judgmental and confidential setting for anyone to do this and to help build the clearest picture of what institutional care was like for children in all of Scotland across the years. By creating this picture the Forum can pick up on trends and patterns of what happened and where appropriate make recommendations to ensure improved health and care for children in institutional care in Scotland, now and in the future.

Eligibility

I live outside of Scotland now, but spent time in Scottish institutions as a child.  Can I still participate?

Why is foster care not included?

I was in institutional care but also foster care.  Am I not able to speak about my time in foster care during my hearing?

I took part in ‘Time To Be Heard’.  Can I be heard again?

I am in prison.  Can I be heard?

My time in care was positive and I would like to share this.  Can I provide a testimony?

I am involved in court proceedings about abuse can I still participate?

 

I live outside of Scotland now, but spent time in Scottish institutions as a child.  Can I still participate?

Yes, you can.  If you feel ready to give your testimony, please fill in the application form and one of our NCF support staff will be in contact to see how we can assist in your travel to and from the Forum

Why is foster care not included?

The legislation which set up the Forum guides and directs what the Forum can do.  The Forum is focussed on institutional care and while we understand that many people’s journeys may have included foster care, we cannot report on this.  We will, however, listen to what you have to say and may make recommendations based on this.

I was in institutional care but also foster care.  Am I not able to speak about my time in foster care during my hearing?

We understand that, often, an individuals’ experience of care means moving  between institutions and foster care.  We are here to listen to your testimony in your own words.  We will never stop you telling us something which you feel is important to your testimony.  What you tell us about your time in foster care will be heard, however we cannot include this as testimony in our report.  We can make recommendations based on what you say, which may make up a part of our final report

I took part in the pilot forum: ‘Time To Be Heard’.  Can I be heard again? 

Yes, you can give your testimony to the Forum if you took part in ‘Time To Be Heard’.

I am in prison.  Can I be heard?

Yes.  The Forum is for everyone and we can make adaptations to how we hear testimony, depending on individual need.  If you are in prison, we look at arrangements to let you be heard.  Please be aware that confirming your hearing date in this instance will take longer than our normal timescales.  Please contact our NCF support staff to discuss your circumstances.

My time in care was positive and I would like to share this.  Can I provide a testimony?

The Forum is about understanding and acknowledging your experiences as a child, whatever they were,  in institutional care in Scotland.  This Forum is open to everyone and we encourage those who have had positive experiences, to share this with us too.

I am involved in court proceedings about abuse can I still participate?

We understand that some people may involved in legal proceedings concerning their experiences.  It is a matter for each individual to decide when they wish to come to the Forum.  It may be more helpful if you could contact us to discuss the most appropriate time for you to attend. 

The Application

Can I apply on behalf of a family member/friend/someone I support?

Why do you need to know how long I was in institutional care?

I cannot remember the names of all the institutions I was in and/or the length of the time I was there.  Does this mean my application won’t be accepted? 

Why do you need to know the names of the people coming with me?

I do not know who I am bringing with me yet.  Does this matter? 

What happens to my application when I send it to you?

 

 

Can I apply on behalf of a family member/friend/someone I support?

We welcome enquiries from anyone.  You can ask on behalf of another person to check whether they are eligible to take part.  You can also support them to fill in the application. However, the Forum requires that we hear from the person about their experience. 

 

Why do you need to know how long I was in institutional care? 

By telling us how long you were in institutional care, it helps us to build a picture of historical institutional care at different times. We can include this in our reports.

 

I cannot remember the names of all the institutions I was in and/or the length of the time I was there.  Does this mean my application will not be accepted? 

No, your application will be accepted.  We ask people to give us information to show where they were in care and for how long, only to help us build a picture of what institutional care for children in Scotland was like.  This information will allow us to have a better picture of the time you spent in care. 

 

Why do you need to know the names of the people coming with me?

The Forum is a safe and confidential place.  It is important that we know who is coming along to the Forum.  This ensures that the privacy of individuals is not breached.  If the person who comes with you on the day, is not the person named on the application form, please let us know.

 

I do not know who I am bringing with me yet.  Does this matter? 

You can send us your application form without identifying a supporter.  We will be in contact with you to confirm your hearing date.  We will ask you then to let us know who you will be bringing along with you.  If you would rather have someone independent to support you.  If this is the case, we can guide you to an appropriate service, who may be able to assist you with this.

 

What happens to my application when I send it to you?

We will read your application, take the information from it and contact you to confirm a hearing date.  Once we have the information we need, we do not keep your application because information given to the Forum must be held confidentially.  All the information we take from your application is held within our secure, electronic database.

The Process

How many supporters can I bring?

I have communication needs.  Can I bring someone to speak for me?

I have pictures/paperwork, I would like to bring along to my hearing.  What will you do with these? 

Why do you ask me to bring verification of my time in residential childcare?

Why do hearings not take place at weekends, evenings or on Fridays? 

Why is my testimony electronically recorded?

Can I still take part if I do not wish to be recorded?

How long do the hearings last?

What if I need to cancel?

Do I have to come to a hearing?

I have submitted a written testimony.  What will happen with this?

 

 

How many supporters can I bring?

We understand that you may find it hard to share your testimony with us so we encourage you to bring someone with you to give you support. You can bring up to 2 supporters to the hearing.  They must be at least 16 years old.

 

I have communication needs.  Can I bring someone to speak for me?

The Forum requires that we hear from the person about their experience.  It may be the case that the individual who was in child care, has communication needs.  These might include someone who would benefit from the presence of a supporter or an interpreter at their hearing to assist them in giving testimony, or who feel submitting a written testimony or a DVD, would be the best option to communicate their experiences.  If you would like to discuss any specific queries regarding this, please contact the NCF support staff.

 

I have pictures/paperwork, I would like to bring along to my hearing.  What will you do with these? 

We encourage you to bring along anything which you feel is important to the hearing.  We will ask you during your hearing to discuss these items with us, so we know what you would like us to understand from them.  We will not hold these items, as they are your property. By telling us about their significance to you, you will be adding them to your testimony.

 

Why do you ask me to bring verification of my time in residential childcare?

You do not need to provide any documents of records about your time in care.  However, as part of our report, we hope to include information on how accessible personal records are to those who spent time in institutional child care in Scotland.  By bringing along what you have been able to access, it will help us to build a picture of this.   We appreciate that not everyone will be able to bring verification.  If you are in this position, please know that you can still come to a hearing and this will not affect your hearing in any way.

 

Why do hearings not take place at weekends, evenings or on Fridays? 

We want to make sure you are safe and comfortable when you leave your hearing.  We want to be sure you are able to access a wide range of support and advice services if you need them.  Having hearings take place Monday to Thursday, during the day, should make this easier.

 

Why is my testimomy electronically recorded?

The testimony is electronically recorded so that we can ensure we are able to focus on listening to you and accurately capture all that you say.  What you say to us is important and we want to make sure we get it right.  The recording will be uploaded onto our secure system and then annonymised.

 

Can I still take part if I do not wish to be recorded?

Yes you can still take part.  Please contact us if you have concerns about your testimony being recorded and we can discuss what other options are available to you, such as sending in written testimony.

 

How long do the hearings last?

We schedule hearings to last for approximately 2 hours.  This does not mean we expect you to talk for 2 hours.  It does it mean you are restricted to that time.   The time frame helps us to ensure we can hear everyone who wishes to share their experiences.  If you find at the end of your hearing, you have not had enough time, our support staff can schedule another hearing date for you to come back.

 

What if I need to cancel?

If you need to cancel your hearing for any reason, please contact the NCF Support Staff on 0141 352 2333 or 0800 121 4773, as soon as possible.  This will allow us to reschedule your hearing date for a more appropriate time for you. 

 

Do I have to come to a hearing? 

If you prefer you can send us your testimony before you come to the Forum or if circumstances mean that you cannot attend. For example in writing or on a DVD. Anything you send will be treated as confidential and will be held securely. In some cases it may be best for us to come to you.  If you are unsure, please contact us and we will give you some more information.

 

I have submitted a written testimony.  What will happen with this?

When we receive your written testimony, we will schedule a time when 2 Forum Members will ‘hear’ it.  This means 1 Member will read your testimony and the other will listen, in the confidential space of a hearing room.  It will be treated the same as any other testimony and will be entered into the secure database.

 

 

After Your Hearing

What happens to my testimony when I leave?

Can I have a copy of my testimony?

Can you help me access my records?

Can I come back to the forum?

I gave my testimony a few months ago, but I want to share something more. Do I need to apply again?

What will happen to my testimony when the Forum ends? 

 

What happens to my testimony when I leave?

When you leave, the recording of your testimony will be uploaded to a secure, electronic database, removing all identifying information, such as your name, names of other people and names of institutions.  The original recording of your testimony will be held for a period of time, before it is deleted from the secure system.

 

Can I have a copy of my testimony?

You will be able to come back and hear your testimony, up to 2 weeks after your hearing date.  Just let us know if you would like to do this.  After 2 weeks, the recording will be deleted.  We will have taken all the information we need and stored it anonymously on our database. 

We will not be able to give you a copy of your testimony as all identifying information, such as your name, names of peers and names of institutions are removed when it is put into the secure database.  It is important that we treat all the information given to us as confidential to the Forum.

 

Can you help me access my records?

We cannot help you to access your records, but we can direct you to people who are experienced in searching for historical care and health records.  Your records will not be available at the Forum itself.

 

Can I come back to the Forum?

We can schedule another hearing time for you if you feel you have not had enough time.  Or if you remember something after you leave which you now want to say.  There is also the option of sending us written testimony to share anything you forgot to say or were not ready to speak about, in the Forum.

 

I gave my testimony a few months ago, but I want to share something more. Do I need to apply again?

 

If you would like to share something more with the Forum, please call us and we will be happy to advise you on how best for you to share this additional information.

 

What will happen to my testimony when the Forum ends?

Your testimony will have been uploaded to our secure database. All information which could identify you will be removed.  The testimonies of people like you will be included in the Forum's reports.  This is a powerful record of what happened to children in Scotland in the past, and we will look to pass this on to be an important historical document for the Scottish people.

The Report

 

What will these reports be and when will they be written?

Will I be able to identify myself?

Why can you not name institutions in the report?

Who will see the final report?

 

 

What will these reports be and when will they be written?

There will be annual reports written by the Head of the Forum which will be about what has happened over the year. This report will show how the Forum has been able to operate to hear those people who are eligible to come and tell of their time in institutional care in Scotland. This report will be to the Scottish Ministers and will be laid before the Scottish Parliament. 

The Forum also may prepare reports based on the testimony of those who took part.  These reports will present experiences of participants but not name anyone who took part. These reports will identify patterns and trends in the information we receive.  They will make recommendations about policy and practice which the Forum considers will improve institutional care in Scotland.

Any information in these reports will not include the identiy of any particpants or applicants of the institution where they were place, unless already know to the public.

 

Will I be able to identify myself?

You may be able to identify some of your experiences in the report, but you will not be identified individually.  We will sometimes group together individual experiences.  This is important to show the experiences of treatment of children in care and to see patterns and trends.

 

Why can you not name institutions in the report?

The legislation setting up the Forum, says that reports from the Forum cannot identify any participant or applicant, any alleged abuser or alleged victim, or the institution related to the accusation, unless that information is already known to the public.

 

Who will see the final report?

The reports of testimony and recommendations based on that testimony will be made public documents and will be available for the Scottish people to read.

 

Contacting The Forum

 

What do you mean when you say your e-mail is not secure?

I have tried to call during your opening hours but have just got the voicemail service. Why is this?

Why do you have a withheld number?

 

 

What do you mean when you say your e-mail is not secure?

Our email system is not secure, in much the same way that your own personal email is not secure. This means emails can be 'hacked' by someone with knowledge and desire to do so.  This is unlikely to happen.  But we need to tell you about this risk.

 

I have tried to call during your opening hours but have just got the voicemail service. Why is this?

We try to make sure our phones are always answered between 9am and 4.30pm.  When hearings take place, and we are with a participant, there may be a short period of time when the phone cannot be answered.  Please feel free, if you wish, to leave a message and we will call you back.  Or you can email us at information@nationalconfidentialforum.org.uk. We will always return your call or email you back unless you ask us to contact you in a different way.

 

Why do you have a withheld number?

Our number is withheld to ensure confidentiality when we contact you.  If you say you would like to be contacted by phone, we will ask you if it is suitable to leave you voicemail messages.  This is to make sure that your involvement in the Forum is kept private unless you choose to let others know you are taking part.