Charity sets up helpline for child abuse survivors

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Wellbeing Scotland will pilot the helpline service for a month

A charity that represents survivors of historical child abuse is setting up a new helpline service.

Wellbeing Scotland said it would give survivors a chance to confidentially name the person or people who abused them.

The helpline will run for a month as a pilot project.

The charity said it brought forward the launch following the latest allegations of abuse in football, revealed in a BBC Scotland investigation.

In the documentary, broadcast on Monday, former players spoke of abuse they allege they suffered at the hands of former coaches.

New alleged victims of the founder of Celtic Boys' Club, Jim Torbett, came forward to claim he sexually abused them during the 1980s and 90s. He "vehemently denies" the allegations.

The investigation also revealed new claims about former Hibernian and Rangers coach Gordon Neely, who died in 2014.

Experienced counsellors

The helpline set up by Wellbeing Scotland, which used to operate as Open Secret, is not football or sport-specific. It is for anyone who has suffered historic abuse.

Chief executive Janine Rennie said: "Whilst we recognise that this confidential third party reporting process does not provide detailed enough information to allow an investigation into that individual's experience, what it does do is allow Police Scotland to identify if perpetrators have been named by more than one individual, which can support their investigations into alleged perpetrators, particularly in the investigation of cases of institutional and organised child abuse."

Callers who do not wish to leave their own details will not be required to do so and the helpline will be staffed by experienced counsellors, the charity said. Ongoing support will also be offered if it is sought.

The charity said it recognised that many victims can feel anxious about disclosing their experiences because of a lack of knowledge about where to access support, fears over confidentiality and a fear of repercussions.

"The information passed on is purely information on perpetrators with no pressure on the individual survivor to make a full statement unless they feel they have made an informed choice to do so," Ms Rennie said.

"For any individuals who choose to report their own experiences, support is provided by Wellbeing Scotland throughout the process." :

The line can be accessed on 0800 121 6027.