A woman who claims she was sexually abused as a child while in care has launched a nationwide campaign to change the law and help protect other victims.
Her book, Please Believe Me, written under pen name Angela Bayley, describes in vivid detail the years of abuse she says she suffered while in the care of Notts County Council.
The married author and mother, now in her 40s, is locked in a battle for compensation with the authority over what she says was their failure to protect her as a vulnerable child.
Angela’s allegations date back to the 1980s and include being sexually abused by a teacher, a care worker at a children’s home in Worksop, and again by a foster father she was placed with.
All of the alleged abuse took place in Bassetlaw, and Angela says she still suffers the psychological scars, including post traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia and emotionally unstable personality disorder.
She filed a claim for compensation with Notts Country Council back in 2008, which still has not been resolved.
A loophole in the law is preventing her from getting the compensation and closure she and her solicitor believe she deserves.
Representing her is Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors, specialists in investigating and claiming compensation for adult victims of childhood abuse.
“As the law stands, local authorities cannot be sued or held responsible for the conduct of their volunteers or independent contractors, and that includes foster parents,” said Angela. “Despite the fact foster parents are vetted, selected and subsidised by councils, they are not defined as employees, so the council is not legally responsible for any harm they may come to at the hands of foster carers.
“Foster parenting is advocated above care homes because it’s a more normal family environment for a child.
“So the law must change to properly protect children in foster care, and force local authorities to be more stringent in their vetting and selection of foster parents.”
“I’m determined to succeed with Angela’s Law, so that other survivors of childhood abuse feel they too can speak out, be believed and get the justice and compensation they deserve.”
“My campaign is about any form of abuse, whether physical, psychological, sexual or neglect.”
Notts County Council service director for children’s social care Steve Edwards said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment as the case was still ongoing.
Angela’s online petition has already attracted hundreds of signatures as the campaign picks up pace.
Bassetlaw MP John Mann has pledged to raise the issue in Parliament.
He believes there is a good case for Angela’s Law, and wants to present it as an amendment to the existing law.
Last week Angela took her campaign to London where she met with Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).
“NAPAC supports our campaign and Peter knows some influential people who can hopefully help us in our aim to get the law changed,” said Angela.
Alongside her in London was local campaigner Adele Mumby who set up the Save Our Services group and ran a successful campaign to retain services at Bassetlaw Hospital.
Adele sprang into action when she heard Angela’s story and has become the face of the campaign, which they are calling Save Our Survivors.
“We are spreading the word about this campaign far and wide and hope to attract as much media attention as possible, both local and national,” said Angela.
“It’s vital that we raise the profile of child abuse right across the country and get people talking about it. High profile cases like the Jimmy Savile scandal have helped with that, and we have seen many of his victims speak out.”
“I didn’t speak out about my experiences until I was an adult, and many survivors don’t because they are scared of what might happen and afraid they won’t be believed.”
“People also need to realise that child abuse is everyone’s responsibility. It’s happening right on our doorsteps and it cannot carry on being brushed under the carpet.”
“I would urge any abuse survivors in Bassetlaw, or anywhere, to seriously consider coming forward and telling someone they trust.”
“It’s only by speaking out against the perpetrators that we can bring them to justice. Now is the perfect time as the police are taking these kinds of cases very seriously indeed.”
Sign Angela’s petition and read more about her story at www.angelabayley.com.
You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
• If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, NAPAC can offer support. Visit www.napac.org.uk
• See next week’s Worksop Guardian for local and national reaction to Angela’s campaign