Impact and Results
The Irish Women Survivors Support Network (IWSSN) provides a specialist advice service for all survivors living across the UK. Survivors are former residents of Irish institutions run by religious congregations in the Republic of Ireland including the Magdalene Laundries. Many survivors suffered some form of neglect or abuse whilst in institutional care, and need support with a range of complex issues. We provide information and support to UK resident survivors and their families in a kind and accessible way, as well as campaigning to secure fair redress.
Through providing both practical support and advocacy, we:
Help to ensure financial security for survivors through accessing benefits they may be eligible for and campaigning for compensation.
IWSSN provides practical help with applying for financial support survivors may be eligible for. To secure survivors’ long-term financial security, IWSSN campaigns for financial redress and structural equality. Proudly, IWSSN is survivor-led, and our campaign priorities are directed by our 4,500 strong survivor membership.
Financial support we’ve helped secure:
- Since IWSSN’s establishment, our outreach workers have helped a total of approximately 350 survivors access benefits that they’ve been entitled to.
- Per year, we’ve helped on average 50 survivors access benefits they’ve been eligible for.
- With our one-to-one support, we’ve enabled survivors of the Magdalene laundries to access €11,500 of compensation for every year spent in a laundry via an annual lump sum, paid directly to the survivors.
- With support from outreach workers, 52 women who were incarcerated in Magdalene laundries and now live in the UK successfully received financial redress in the form of lump sum payments from the Restorative Justice Scheme at a total of €2m, averaging at around €30k each.
- Of the 3,188 applications made to the Caranua Fund since the opening of the fund (6 January 2014), IWSSN supported 550 survivors living in the UK to access redress they were entitled to.
- By the 31st August 2014, Caranua made payments worth €1,775,541 to eligible survivors – IWSSN secured over 17% of these funds for survivors living in the UK, ata a total of €305,755.
- IWSSN has enabled around 300 survivors living in the UK receive an Irish pension at €230 per week.
- As of the end of August 2014, we supported approximately 45 survivors of the Magdalene laundries to successfully receive Irish pensions.
Support survivors to heal childhood and adolescent mental scars and take proactive steps to improve their health and well-being.
We take the time to understand the health and social care needs of survivors, and support them individually to overcome mental scars from their past, which too often still cause much pain and suffering. Through referring survivors to specialist services, running health and well-being classes and offering drop-in sessions and appointments, we provide practical support and ensure survivors do not suffer in silence. IWSSN supports survivors to challenge health issues caused by their pasts and to take proactive steps to improve their well-being for their futures.
Support we’ve provided to improve health and wellbeing:
Advice / Support:
- Our office with the adjoining Whispering Hope Centre that is a space for our survivor client-base, is open Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am to 5pm.
- We offer a variety of services for survivors, including:
- drop-in advice
- telephone advice
- home visits
- Over the last year, our outreach workers have given specialist advice and support over the phone around 3,900 times, via home visits over 50 times, and at the Whispering Hope Centre during one-to-one booked appointments approximately 550 times.
- At the time of survivors applying redress, IWSSN referred around 800 survivors to counselling funded by the Irish Government.
- IWSSN has helped over 100 survivors to be re-housed into better accommodation – most of our survivor-clients now seem to be settled and very few require further help in this area.
- We’ve supported around 10 survivors who have experienced domestic violence to be rehoused and ensure they are accessing benefits they are entitled to.
Prevent isolation by connecting the survivor community, providing a consistent, reliable support network and giving voice.
IWSSN brings the survivor community together through a variety of different ways. We empower survivors by organising mass meetings that guide the direction of our campaigns, provide a safe, welcoming and caring base at our offices in Kentish Town for survivors to drop-in for support, and we run classes to help forge friendships and develop skills. It is IWSSN’s top priority to always provide a practical support network for all survivors.
Activities and support we’ve overseen to bring the community together:
Classes and social events:
- IWSSN has been running IT, 1-2-1 IT Tuition, Tablet, Relaxation, Reading and Creative Writing, 1-2-1 Literacy Tuition, Literacy, Games, Basic Maths, Art and Health and Well-being classes for the last two and half years, reaching over 162 survivors, through a total of 583 classes, over 1,126 hours.
- Outside of educational classes, IWSSN has organised social gatherings and meetings, including annual trips to Brighton, Christmas parties and summer graduation events, with a total of over 725 people attending over the last two and half years, bringing survivors together for a total of 348 hours.
Family tracing / reuniting with family:
- IWSSN has successfully unearthed a significant amount of information and knowledge about organisations and religious orders to support survivors with family tracing.
- Family tracing is incredibly labour-intensive and complex, and successful reunions – with consistent support – takes a considerable amount of time to complete.
- Reunions can take anything up to a year to complete and we support on average 30 survivors per year, spending around 7 working days on each case, amounting to 1,680 hours or 210 full working days of support.
- Our established, specialist expertise in family tracing makes us the leading organisation in the UK carrying out this vital client service for Irish survivors.
- IWSSN also helps with counselling when reunions haven’t been successful and upholds the utmost sensitivity with confidential information that the organisation gathers in the process of tracing family.
- Since IWSSN’s establishment, we have helped over 150 survivors with family tracing to reconnect survivors with family members.
Returning to Ireland:
- In total, we’ve helped around 80 survivors move back to Ireland.