Historical institutional abuse
The Northern Ireland Executive has set up an inquiry and investigation into historical institutional abuse. That is, abuse of children under 18 who were living in children’s homes, borstals, training schools, juvenile justice centres, hospitals and orphanages in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
Part of the inquiry is an Acknowledgement Forum to which victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse can talk in private about what happened to them when they were children living in these institutions.
Another part includes a statutory inquiry. Some victims and survivors may prefer to describe their experiences directly to the statutory inquiry through the legal team and if required, at public hearings.
To find out more about the Inquiry into historical institutional abuse, including how to take part, please go to:
Help for victims and survivors
If you are in distress or despair as a consequence of historical institutional abuse, counselling support is available at Lifeline:
- phone: 0808 808 8000
- Lifeline (contacts section)
You can call free, in confidence, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Somewhere for victims and survivors to meet and talk
A meeting place for those who have been affected by Historical Institutional Abuse has now opened its doors in Derry/Londonderry.
Each Friday morning from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon, victims and survivors can get together in a safe place, to discuss issues and ease tensions and anxieties over a cup of tea or coffee. A trained WAVE Trauma Centre counsellor will be on hand, to offer extra help and support.
The Derry/Londonderry meeting place is at:Wave Trauma Centre
23a Bishop Street
Phone: 028 7126 6655
Report abuse to the PSNI
The PSNI have specialist units who will investigate all reports of institutional abuse. You can find addresses and phone numbers for these units by using the following link.
Other help available
Below are links to other kinds of government help that victims have said they need most. If there is other information you would like please contact the historical institutional abuse unit in the Office of the First and deputy First Minister at:
You can get help and advice on all social security benefits from Jobs and Benefits Offices or from the Benefit Shop, Castle Court.
Or you can find information about benefits at the nidirect page below.
Homelessness and housing
You can get information and advice about your housing options from
Education, training and work
The Careers Service offers advice to young people and adults about education, training and employment. You can find your local careers adviser by using the following link.
Or you can read more at:
Birth and family records
General Register Office of Northern Ireland (GRO)
The General Register Office holds the records of births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and adoptions in Northern Ireland.
There is a search room open to the public for anyone who wants to use the records to trace family members.
Access to adoption records is more restricted. An adopted person may apply to see their original birth record. They can also register their interest in tracing family members through the Adoption Contact Register.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
The Public Record Office holds some records which may help victims of abuse. It also has records to help you research your family tree and advice to help you start.
You can search the records online or visit the PRONI building and search in person.
- Search PRONI's online records (do it online section)
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (contacts section)
In general PRONI does not hold:
- records of voluntary homes
- records of homes run by religious orders - these may still be with the relevant order
- files of individual children in care – from 1947 these are held by the Social Service Departments of the Northern Ireland Health Trusts.