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Access to records – supporting you to obtain historical records of your time in care

At In Care Survivors Service Scotland we recognise that access to your historical, childhood records from your time in a formal care setting can be a very important piece of work to support you with. We understand that often obtaining copies of your records under the Data Protection Act may create an opportunity to feel there is evidence of your childhood, to help you fill in gaps and to help you answer questions you have about your time in care and why you went in to care.

We also know from experience that this work can be distressing for a person. There are several reasons for this (and this is not an exhaustive list):

• Records in part or whole may be missing or destroyed

• It can take a long time for records to be provided

• The language used in records written decades ago can feel inappropriate and even offensive

• Reading historical records can trigger memories buried and/or unclear.

• Approaching authorities and organisations who may hold records can feel daunting and intimidating.

What can ICSSS do to help?

At In Care Survivors Service Scotland we can act on your behalf, with your written consent, to request legible copies of your records. At no point do you need to accept the offer to attend an agency or authority simply to view your records.

Alongside the administrative task of searching for any records which do remain in archive we recommend some work with one of our qualified and experienced counsellors to support you with any release of records that occurs. This means that we can talk to you about some of the issues that may come up in the process of requesting records (as mentioned above) and we can work through with you the painful situation which can occur where records have been destroyed or are incomplete.

If you give us permission to try to obtain your records we will also ask if you would prefer the records to be sent to you directly or sent to the counsellor/development worker and if the latter is the case we will always ask you if you want the records to remain in a sealed envelope.Sometimes a person decides they would prefer their worker to read through the records first as a way to set their expectations of the contents. Other times the person wants records sent to the worker but not to be read, and other times there is a preference for records to be sent directly to you. From there we can talk to you about reading them on your own and what that experience may be like or whether to hold the records and gradually and gently go through the records with your worker.

This would be our recommended approach because we know from our experience how upsetting it can be to go through historical records. However, we would never force that process upon you and we would always respect your choices and your privacy.

I would like you to obtain my records. What do you need from me?

When we meet with you we would require that you sign a Consent Form (click here) giving us written permission to act on your behalf. We would then issue a letter with a formal Subject Access Request in order to obtain a legible copy of your historical records.

It may be that the organisation(s) requires you to complete one of their consent forms and provide 2 forms of identification and we would liaise with you to arrange to send that to the organisation.

As part of that process, we would talk to you about where you want the records to be sent to and what is the best way for you to go through your records.

If you would like to take up this advocacy service you can self refer to 0800 121 6027 between 9am and 11am Monday to Friday or if you already receive counselling at ICSSS you can ask your counsellor to arrange for a request to be sent.