A public apology to victims and survivors of historical institutional childhood abuse in Northern Ireland will be made on 11th March 2022.

Survivors of historical institutional childhood abuse are individuals and their responses to the apology will reflect their individual experiences, circumstances, thoughts and feelings. Many survivors will welcome the apology as potentially contributing to a sense of closure on their journey to heal from abuse. Others may see it as too little, too late. There is the possibility, however, that the increased focus on historical institutional abuse accompanying the apology will prompt victims and survivors to further reflect on their childhood experiences. Individual responses among survivors will vary but for some survivors it could mean increased distress and anguish.

Mental health and other support services and agencies in Northern Ireland and beyond may receive new requests for support from survivors and/or their families; requests for increases in already existing supports; or survivors who had previously engaged with services may seek to engage again. With increased public focus on historical institutional abuse and accompanying media coverage, these increases in requests for support could happen before, during and after the apology.

Dedicated support for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse is provided through the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) and their partners, WAVE.

The arrangements in place to assist people seeking support are set out below.

Victims and Survivors Service
The Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) provides dedicated  support and services to victims and survivors of Historical Institutional Childhood Abuse.  VSS will provide emotional support during the event on the 11th March 2022.  In addition to its usual operating hours of Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, VSS will also be available via telephone, email or webchat as follows:

Saturday 12th March 9am to 5pm
Sunday 13th March 9am to 5pm

Contact details are as follows:

Wave Trauma Centre
WAVE Trauma Centre will also operate a dedicated support line through 02890 779 922.  This will operate on:

Friday 11th March 2022 9am-8pm
Saturday 12th March 2022 10am to 5pm
Sunday 13th March 2022 10am to 5pm

Drop in support is available over the weekend at:
WAVE Belfast 5 Chichester Park South.  BT15 5DW 10-4pm on Saturday the 12th March 2022
WAVE Derry Londonderry 25-30 The Diamond,  Derry Londonderry, BT48 6HP from 10-4pm on Sunday 13th March 2022.

Support available outside of these hours

If you live in Great Britain or Ireland, please contact Samaritans for help on 116 123. Samaritans are there for people who need someone to listen. Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. Samaritans operates FREE 24/7 every day of the year.

Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress.  Lifeline counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to listen and help, in confidence.

People living in Northern Ireland can call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. Deaf and hard of hearing Textphone users can call Lifeline on 18001 0808 808 8000. Calls to Lifeline are free to people living in Northern Ireland who are calling from UK landlines and mobiles.

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