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Citizens Panel Responds To Memorial Criticism

The three shortlisted designs

The Citizens Panel which recommended a memorial to honour victims and survivors of abuse in Jersey's care system be created has called on islanders to support it.

They have released a statement in response to heavy criticism of the memorial idea from islanders - with particular concern that it will trigger harmful memories for survivors.

A small gathering has been planned for this weekend to protest against the decision to build the memorial at the Weighbridge.

The two potential locations, on either side of the Weighbridge.

There's been huge opposition to the plan on social media, with another petition calling for the decision to be reversed exceeding 1,000 signatures.

The protest has been organised by campaigner Cheyenne O'Connor, who says it's for the survivors who don't want an 'in your face' memorial in the centre of town to remind them of the horrendous abuse they suffered:

"Every survivor/victim is on a different journey in their lives and some may be very ready for this reminder, but some are also not, and that’s where we need to come together. All this has done so far is divided survivors against each other and that is not what should be happening. Every person man or women deserves a voice.

"We are not asking for nothing to be done here, we are asking for compromise, something that everyone is happy with, and there is certainly time to put this on hold to assure everyone is listened to."

Responding to the recent opposition, the Citizens Panel says it is calling on islanders to stand with them to make sure those in a position of power are not allowed to forget what happened in the past:

"Our first message to those who share the pain of our past is that we understand the anger some of you have felt on seeing the plans for the memorial at the Weighbridge. We hope that an explanation of our position will help to ease this anger.

"In 2018 we, the Jersey Citizens Panel, were asked by the government to make a set of recommendations to ‘ensure survivors can be respected and honoured in decades to come’. Fourteen of us, most of us survivors ourselves heard from experts from around the world, challenged each other and finally reached consensus on a set of four recommendations.

"We agreed unanimously that in order to move forward we must look back. Our recommendation for a memorial we believe helps us to look back, whilst our other recommendations help us to move forward. As well as our recommendation for a Jersey Children’s Day our third key recommendation was for ‘help and support for victims/survivors and their families’. Two years ago we recommended that this must include firstly, mental health service provision for survivors and their families who continue to be affected by the trauma of their pasts, secondly an independent advocacy service for survivors and their families and thirdly, opportunities for survivors and their families to come together to support each other in a range of settings. We are hugely disappointed with a lack of progress on this third recommendation and know that many of our fellow survivors still feel inadequately supported.

Frances Oldham QC chaired the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry, which recommended a memorial be created.

"We agreed that a memorial should serve to ‘honour victims and survivors, those lives lost, lives ruined and those who are still suffering’, should include an apology and be highly visible so it cannot be ignored. We suggested the memorial should be located in a highly prominent position so that the Jersey government and others are reminded of the injustice that took place. We carefully considered the role of a memorial and identified eight criteria we felt must guide its design, including the points made here.

"We appreciate the concern expressed by some that a memorial may trigger painful memories and we will take this into account when deciding upon the final design. However, we also recognise that there are many things across our island that may trigger our painful memories. Our hope is that this memorial will serve to trigger action and remind us all that the mistakes of the past must never be repeated.

"We ask you to stand together with us firstly, to ensure that those in positions of power are not allowed to forget what happened in the past and secondly to push for a comprehensive support system for survivors and their families as described in our recommendations from 2018."

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