SURVIVORS of historical child abuse have been urged to come forward and share their experiences as a four-year investigation into allegations surrounding youngsters in care launches a call for evidence.

Susan O’Brien QC, chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, together with other panel members Glenn Houston and Professor Michael Lamb, made the announcement in Glasgow yesterday and outlined how it will take evidence.

They have already heard from a small number of seriously ill or very elderly survivors but the invitation has now been extended to all victims.

Those who suffered abuse as children in residential or foster care and who wish to provide evidence to the inquiry are being urged to make contact by email, post or, from Tuesday March 29, through freephone number, 0800 0929 300.

O’Brien also confirmed that survivors providing evidence in this way would become known as “applicants”, with the first private evidence-gathering meetings taking place from late April. The word “applicants” has been chosen because these are survivors who have applied to assist the inquiry.

The survivors will have their evidence heard in private and recorded anonymously by experienced and specially trained lawyers.

There will also be public hearings and names can be public if applicants want them to divulged.

O’Brien also confirmed that she expects public hearings to begin in November 2016, with the first looking at the current provision of psychological support for abuse survivors in Scotland.

She said that she aims to provide an interim report on the first public hearings next year which may enable the inquiry to make recommendations that could improve the situation for survivors before publication of the final report.