SURVIVORS of historical child abuse in care homes, educational institutions, by religious orders and high-profile members of the Scottish establishment are calling for compensation to be granted as part of a forthcoming public inquiry.

At the end of this month, Education Secretary Angela Constance will announce the remit and timing of the inquiry after holding months of discussions with victims and those who ran the institutions where they were abused.

Survivors want interim payments, similar to those given to victims in Ireland, so they can seek the help they so desperately need while Scotland’s biggest child abuse inquiry is being held.

In Care Abuse Survivors (INCAS), which represents nearly 400 victims of institutional abuse, said that, over the past 17 years of campaigning for an inquiry, scores of victims have died of old age, ill-health and suicide while waiting for justice for the shocking abuse they suffered as children while in care.

The charity’s chairwoman, Helen Holland, 56, from Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, said: “We want the scope to be as wide as possible and should not be narrowed down. It should cover everyone who was abused under the care of the state.

“Obviously, the institutions responsible want the scope to be as narrow as possible because they don’t want to be named and shamed. There must be no cover-ups. It needs to be as open as possible.

“Since 1998 we have been calling for a proper inquiry to get justice for thousands of Scottish survivors of institutional abuse.

“What we want out of this inquiry is acknowledgement, accountability, reparation, compensation, counselling, basically all the things survivors need.”

Helen herself suffered physical torture and sexual abuse from 1964 to 1974 at Nazareth House in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, which was run by the Catholic Order, the Sisters of Nazareth. Her chief abuser was a nun called Sister Kevin.

She said that as a punishment she was taken by Sister Kevin to the outhouse and thrown in an industrial tumble drier which was then switched on.

Helen said: “Angela Constance will make an announcement at the end of the month to tell us who the chairperson will be on the inquiry, when it will start and the scope of it.

“When I met her recently she admitted she won’t please everybody, however, her priority should be not about pleasing people, but about meeting the needs of the survivors.

“I want her to help the survivors right now. What Ireland did was once the survivors came forward, once they had verified they had been in care, they were given interim payments of about 10,000 euros to allow them get help and have the right to choose where they go for help.

“The scoping exercise over the past few months has been very distressing for the survivors because they had to sit in front of a group of civil servants and tell them what they want in the public inquiry.

“Many of these survivors have never been involved in an inquiry in their lives, so how they are supposed to know what it should involve is beyond me.

“Thankfully, INCAS has a group of solicitors acting on our behalf because the Government has more than 140 legal advisors.

“The Government announced the inquiry in December and then put notices out in newspapers and online asking survivors to go along to events, many of them didn’t even see those notices.

Helen said that, although many of the big institutions like Nazareth House, Quarriers and Smyllum Park have closed down, child abuse in care is still going on.

She added: “While they are still dealing with cases dating back 60 to 70 years, abuse in care is still happening now. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again and the sooner this inquiry gets up and running the better.

“Young people in care need to know that they will be taken seriously when they complain about what happened to them.

“It is a nonsense for the Government to say things have moved on. The big institutions are not there but the level of abuse is still there and we cannot continue as a society to abandon children once they are taken into care.

“If this government fails to recognise what has happened, despite the fact there have been court cases, then they are just as bad as the people who abused us in the first place.”

Constance said she had been consulting with survivors and organisations on the “exact terms of reference” for the inquiry and planned to make an announcement at the end of April.

She said: “Those terms of reference need to capture the principles of the inquiry, and how we can create the right environment to support victims to confide, and the right timescales over which it should be held.

“That process must also find the right people to oversee the inquiry, not least any chair or panel.

“On 11 November, my predecessor, Michael Russell, stood in this Chamber and spoke about the moral imperative that compelled all of us to face up to and act on the reality of historical abuse of children and the current risks of child abuse.

“There have been national investigations into this issue before. And it is important that any further inquiry complements and builds on previous work, while moving the issue forward.

“We must also be conscious of the work already underway with survivors. The Scottish

Government has already given its commitment to working to develop a survivor support fund, and also to fund an appropriate commemoration, guided by the views of survivors.

“We will not make the same mistake as others by rushing out with names before we have consulted with survivors and relevant organisations about the attributes of a chair or panel.”