Shirley Oaks Survivors Assoication;
MUSIC INDUSTRY MOGULS JOIN FORCES WITH CHILD ABUSE SURVIVORS TO BRING JUSTICE IN TRAILBLAZING NEW SINGLE
You Tube link https://youtu.be/YtonOmIvS_I
LONDON, 9th December 2015: The survivors of one of the world’s most horrific cases of child abuse have joined forces with music industry establishment to create a powerful new music video as part of a groundbreaking campaign that is hoped will encourage more witnesses to come forward so that justice can be brought to the hundreds of victims and a 100 year restriction order on the victim’s files can be lifted. The track, entitled “Don’t Touch It. It’s Mine” will enter the Christmas charts when released on iTunes on Friday 11th December and the video will go live on YouTube from today.
Written by music magnate and founder of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA), Raymond Stevenson who discovered Jessie J when she was 15 and was himself physically abused at Shirley Oaks1, with input and melodies by X Factor / Alien Uncovered star, Temple Praise, the track features haunting testimonies from the victims and expresses the fear and horror suffered by vulnerable young children during decades of abuse at Shirley Oaks through the medium of dance. Directed by Giles Borg (Flutter, 1234, Home) and choreographed by Ryan Jenkins, one of the UK’s most sought after choreographers, the vocals are by girl group Ether Mia who were selected based on their suitability to understand the subject matter and to empathise with the victims. All funds raised from the single will go towards helping SOSA track down victims from across the UK and around the world.
The already high profile campaign has attracted the attention and support of MP Chuka Umunna, Labour MP for Streatham, who has publically called for a reinvestigation into the case stating that: “By the police’s own admission, previous investigations were ‘of the time’ and did not meet the standards we would apply today. The police owe it to the survivors group to reopen the investigation”. The campaign is also backed by former senior detective Clive Driscoll who said: “The people that matter in this are the people who were in the care system at the time and a reinvestigation will mean we can try and deliver the truth”.
Raymond Stevenson2, SOSA founder, said: “I have spearheaded many campaigns and they have always been motivated by personal circumstances and issues that blight communities. Maybe because I survived the hell of Shirley Oaks I believe it’s my duty to help others. I say this not just because I was a victim but because there can be no greater crime levied at humanity than paedophillia. Then add to that these were abandoned children in the state’s care, already unloved and frightened, some already victims and others whose parents had died. Then add the lies, the cover-up, the conspiracy and now we learn that this could have all been prevented. This video will enable victims to tell their story through a medium that cannot be tampered with or edited. The chorus in the song simply says, ‘you don’t know what they done to me’. The video will show the fear horror and abuse through art. A line in the song that asks the question, ‘what happens if it was your child?”
Chair of SOSA, Alex Wheatle MBE, himself a victim of abuse at Shirley Oaks added: “We, the Shirley Oaks Survivors, are proud to launch this music video and hope that it will encourage more witnesses to feel they can come forward and speak out.”
Shirley Oaks, at the time the largest children’s home in the world, has been named as one of 20 children’s homes in the Lambeth borough to be investigated as part of The Goddard Inquiry3, the biggest ever public inquiry into cases of child sexual abuse by public and private institutions in England and Wales. Justice Lowell Goddard announced3 that the investigation, which is expected to last five years, will examine claims, counter claims, conspiracies and cover ups, scrutinising former and current MPs, advisors, civil servants and the security services.
Amongst the alleged abusers are Jimmy Savile, as well as former Lambeth Labour councilors, Toren Smith and Susan Smith, who have been convicted. There have been two major police investigations into abuse at children’s homes in South London and a total of three people have been convicted of offences; one relating to Shirley Oaks, swimming instructor, William Hook, and the remaining two including Michael John Carroll who ran Angell Road children’s home and Les Paul from South Vale Children’s Home.
SOSA is demanding answers for one very specific matter – the sudden death of 15-year old Peter Davis in 1977, found hanged in a toilet with a cord around his neck. Following signs of sexual acitivy, a coroner ruled “death by misadventure“, but friends who grew up with him believe he was the target of paedophiles. Peter was the chief witness in a rape trial at the Old Bailey two years before he died where he gave evidence in regard to both his and his sibling’s rape. When the BBC looked for court documents from the time, they found that in 2003 they had been made secret for 100 years.
Singers for the “Don’t Touch It. It’s Mine” campaign include 23 year old Millie from Essex, 21 year old Sophie from West Sussex and 21 year old Royal Opera House ballet dancer, Lucy from Stoke. The group known as ETHERMIA were selected based on their suitability to understand the subject matter and to empathise with the victims. When Urban Concepts4 played the track, the girls burst into tears and demanded to be part of the project. Taking their roles as ambassadors for victims seriously, the girls did their own research and went to Shirley Oaks and also accompanied the victims as they made a presentation to Lambeth council.
Principal crew for the music video will include: director, Giles Borg (Flutter, 1234, Home) with over twenty years of experience in music, film and television directing music videos, full length feature films, commercials and TV programmes; Jospeh Crone, a multi-talented fashion stylist and costume designer with a diverse list of clients and credits in the music, commercial and film sectors of the industry, from James Blunt to Dizzee Rascal, Investec to Innocent; and Ryan Jenkins, one of the UK’s most sought after choreographers, recently appointed creative director by UK government to represent and create work for Great Britain National day at Milan Expo 2015.
Lambeth Council is supporting the Shirley Oaks Survivors’ Association in their campaign to identify further victims and offer counselling to those who have not already received it but feel they would now benefit.
“Don’t Touch It. It’s Mine” is available on iTunes for pre-order now at:
Join in the conversation @ShirleyOaksSA / #ShirleyOaks
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Notes to Editors
1 – Shirley Oaks Children’s Home
Shirley Oaks children’s home was based in Croydon, Surrey on a 70 acre site with 52 houses which catered between 8-14 children. Complete with its own school, swimming pool, works depot and a doctor’s surgery it was the only world most of the children would know. It opened in 1904 to glowing reports with the Southwark Annual stating how Shirley Oaks was a model village created for children whose parents had died or were unable to look after them. The mission statement was to train the children in a career away from the physical disadvantage of the crowded districts and also from the morally injurious influences which are powerfully demonstrated in the streets of the great metropolis. Tens of thousands of children passed through the gates of Shirley Oaks. For most vulnerable children aged between 2 -10 years, it was easy to believe they had been sent to an outpost of heaven. Lush green fields surrounded the village style setting with houses branching off the enclosed ring road which would end up being a road paved to hell. Sadly for most of the children they would
have been better off to fend for themselves on the streets than being left in the hands of the state controlled children’s homes.
2 – Raymond Stevenson and Shirley Oaks Survivors Association
Raymond Stevenson attended Shirley Oaks from 1967 – 1978. At 13 years old he was kicked out of Shirley Oaks and was sent to a boarding school in Surrey. Away from the cold, harsh environment he flourished and pursued the one good thing he remembered from the home which were the acting and dancing classes. From here, he attended the Laban Dance Centre and then won a scholarship at The Rambert School of Ballet. At 26 he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. After this he started a production company with his business
partner Lucia Hinton and staged concerts and ran their own nightclub. Around the same time he developed artists such as Jessie J and produced various government funded campaigned centred around the issues of gun and knife crime. Having spent a lifetime trying to forget the physical abuse he suffered growing up in the home, Raymond was forced to relive the nightmare when he received a phone call from a person who was in the same children’s home as him. This was the first time Raymond learned about the horror that had taken place at Shirley Oaks and the allegations that many of the houses on the site were run by paedophiles. Joining forces with Alex Wheatle, who also attended the home, themselves and other victims formed the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association. The first demand from the SOSA was that Lambeth council allow all their members and any other children who were in homes in south London to access their files. Reading his own file, Raymond released that along with the beatings and being drugged, the psychological trauma had impacted his life to the detriment. But as he conducted more interviews, he soon realised that his strife was nothing compared to many of his friends who suffered in silence and said nothing even when they played outside together. There
were good house parents but they were few and far between and Raymond discovered after speaking to his favourite house parents that those who questioned Lambeth’s failings were quickly moved on.
3 – The Goddard Inquiry
On Friday 27th November 2015, Justice, Lowell Goddard announced that Shirley Oaks, which was run by Lambeth council in South London, will be one of the cases of child sexual abuse to be investigated as part of the biggest public inquiry into criminality and corruption by public and private institutions in England and Wales. The New Zealand judge, appointed to run the long-awaited independent inquiry into child abuse within state and non-state institutions, has vowed that no individual or institution however powerful will be able to obstruct her investigations. The monarchy, government, politicians, church leaders, schools, hospitals and the media will all be examined. Insurance companies which deny victims the truth to prevent compensation payouts, and internet providers who fail to tackle online abuse, will also be investigated. Full statement is online at www.IICSa.org.uk
4 – Urban Concepts:
As well as running a successful artist management company, 141a Management Raymond and Lucia combine their efforts to run the highly acclaimed Urban Concepts. They do this “because we feel it is part of our responsibility to be part of the solution in addressing social issues.” They have devised anti-gun and anti-knife campaigns: “Don’t Trigger” and “One Knife Can Take A Life”, which were funded by the Home Office, with media partners The Mirror and MTV. The success of these two campaigns resulted in an invitation to Number 10 Downing Street to meet Tony Blair and to New York to meet Mayor Bloomberg where we discussed the issues of gun crime in the ghettos of New York. As with all Urban Concepts projects before we deliver a campaign strategy we spend months investigating the central issues. The next stage is to find a narrative that will be a vechile for reaching the widest possible audience, in this case this included writing the
song and producing an initial treatment for the video. The final stage is to engage with victims to test our stager and once we have their approval we engage the services of a director, choreographer and stylist to portray the hell that was Shirley Oaks and other south London children’s homes.