The Hesley Group run care homes and placements for adults with learning difficulties all over the country, including two residential special schools in Doncaster.
The care homes in Doncaster all have been rated “Good” by OFSTED, however, a BBC investigation has revealed that this is far from the truth.
The BBC interviewed former workers, and gained access to confidential Hesley Group incident report logs, which has revealed a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse and neglect by staff.
This included a child being fed a spoon of chilli flakes and being denied water, a child receiving a black eye, other children were punched and kicked in the stomach. Another child was reported to have been swung around by their ankles and another was locked outside in freezing temperatures while naked. Children were reportedly left in soiled clothes, made to sit in cold baths and deprived of medication for days.
There was also evidence of neglect. One child was reported to have been locked in a bathroom overnight, two others were not given medication for days and four other allegations of others not being fed properly.
Nicola Oades’ daughter, Ruby is autistic, has epilepsy and significant learning difficulties. She was grabbed by the wrist and dragged into her bedroom by a member of staff. Ruby does not like loud noises, but the staff would sit her in the kitchen and play the radio at a high volume as a punishment, or threaten her with it if she was misbehaving.
In total, the BBC found that 104 reports of concern were made at the homes from early 2018 to spring 2021.
The leaked Hesley logs also show that Doncaster Council’s safeguarding lead, known as the LADO, were sent 66 warnings about the Hesley Homes over a three-year period. Ofsted received 40 separate alerts but the homes kept their “good” rating.
One worker, Chloe Straw said she approached the police in 2018 with the names of the children she had heard were being abused, along with the names of the alleged abusive colleagues, but was told there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case. Another former support worker reported the alleged abuse to the police in 2018, but was told that there were not enough resources to investigate.
Abuse would be openly discussed by colleagues and some would sit in chairs blocking bedroom doors, so children could not leave. Chloe says she reported her concerns to senior staff on multiple occasions, but was told her account was a matter of perception.
South Yorkshire Police says in both cases there was insufficient evidence to progress with a criminal investigation but it had referred the allegations to the Local Authority.
Hesley’s personnel files also show that multiple support workers were allowed to work with children for up to six months before their DBS criminal record checks had been completed.
It is believed that more than 100 of the UK’s most vulnerable children in care are feared to have been harmed, including many who are non-verbal.
Despite this, the Hesley Group continues to run a school and placements for adults with learning difficulties. The Group says they cannot comment further because of the ongoing criminal investigation by South Yorkshire Police.
Here at Farleys, we have a number of specialists with experience in assisting survivors of abuse and their families with claims for compensation. Our ability to help clients claim damages for their experiences means that many of them are able to access the support they need. Claims on behalf of victims of abuse validate their experiences and acknowledge the failures of the Local Authority.
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