Child abuse inquiry investigating former Borders homes

Two former children’s homes in the Borders are set to come under scrutiny as part of a large-scale inquiry into allegations of child abuse.

A nationwide child abuse inquiry launched in May last year to try to establish the extent of mistreatment suffered by children in care in Scotland in years gone by is due to hear evidence relating to Barnardo’s homes later this year.

The seven former Barnardo’s homes being investigated by the inquiry, being held in Edinburgh and chaired by Lady Anne Smith, include Balcary House in Hawick and Craigerne Residential School in Peebles.

The inquiry – now 46 days in and due to resume on Tuesday, April 24, after last sitting on Wednesday last week – has been taking evidence from former residents, staff and management at homes, secure units, boarding schools and healthcare centres.

More than 60 institutions, also including Balnakiel House in Galashiels, previously a home run by the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God, are being investigated.

The two Borders Barnardo’s homes are scheduled to come under scrutiny at hearings to be held in the autumn alongside five others run by the charity elsewhere in the country.

Allegations relating to homes run by the Aberlour Child Care Trust and Quarriers will also be looked into.

A spokesperson for the inquiry said: “The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry wants to ensure that all available evidence is gathered.

“Investigations are on-going, with evidence being taken from survivors and other witnesses who can provide valuable information, as well as gathering a wide range of documentary evidence.

“We have been pleased with the response to date, but as the investigation progresses, we would actively encourage anyone who has relevant information to get in touch.

“If you have information or experiences of any establishments run by Barnardo’s, especially the ones listed, please contact the inquiry’s witness support team as soon as possible.”

Balcary House, in Buccleuch Road, was built as a family home in 1888 and taken over by Barnardo’s in 1944, initially as a Second World War evacuation centre for girls from Kent.

It was turned into a holiday home and respite centre for Barnardo’s children in the 1950s, shutting down in 1974. It is now a hotel.

Craigerne, in Edderstone Road, was opened in 1956 as a residential school for boys described as having emotional difficulties.

It underwent a revamp in 1982 but was closed in 1989 and is now part of a housing development.

Former residents or members of staff at either of the region’s old Barnardo’s homes wishing to give evidence during the third phase of the inquiry can either call 0800 0929 300 or email talktous@childabuseinquiry.scot