10 June 2024

Eight percent of GB Population Identify as Troubles victims, survey finds

Approximately 8% of British adults feel that they meet the definition of a victim or survivor of the Troubles/conflict and 83% believe the Troubles should be taught in secondary schools, a report carried out on behalf of the Commission for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland has found.

Working with YouGov, the Commission has carried out a poll of the adult population in Great Britain (GB) covering England, Scotland and Wales following similar surveys conducted in Northern Ireland (NI) in 2021 and in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) in 2023.

The trilogy of reports has provided the data sets measuring population impact and views on Troubles-related issues across the NI, GB and ROI jurisdictions conducted under the Strategy for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the survey Andrew Sloan, CEO of the Commission for Victims and Survivors, said “in the years following the establishment of the Commission, our work largely focused on victims and survivors living in Northern Ireland however, we also recognise the importance of acknowledging the enduring impact of the Troubles/conflict on victims and survivors living elsewhere. In recent years, we have broadened our work to recognise the needs of victims and survivors across the different jurisdictions supporting efforts to ensure their voices are heard and issues addressed.”

Mental Health and Services

The GB survey has revealed that 5% of British adults have been bereaved by a Troubles/conflict-related incident while 4% of the adult population said that their mental health had been affected by their experiences of the Troubles. Importantly, of this figure, 34% said that their mental health continues to be affected today.

The report also found that of those who could identify as a victim and/or survivor of the Troubles fewer that one in ten (7%) currently receive services or support. Significantly, 11% of those who said they could identify as a victim and/or survivor revealed that they don’t currently access any support or services but would like to. In responding to victims needs the survey found that nine in ten British adults (89%) agree that at least one tailored service or support should be available for victims and

survivors of the Troubles/conflict. Additionally, in recognizing the need to address the mental health legacy of the Troubles 63% of British adults supported the establishment of a specialist psychological trauma service for victims and survivors in Great Britain.

According to Sloan, “from this data it is evident that there are victims and survivors and their families in Great Britain who continue to suffer from Troubles-related psychological and physical injury decades after their deeply traumatic experiences. Some of these individuals have made contact with the Commission while many more have continued to suffer in silence. It is incumbent upon us all including governments across these islands to ensure the unmet needs of victims and their families are properly recognized and responded to.”

Legacy and Education

The survey also gauged opinions regarding Legacy and Troubles education.

Over four in five British adults support the history of the Troubles being taught in secondary schools in GB (83%). Meanwhile, nearly four in five adults (78%) think it is important to address the legacy of the Troubles/conflict, while fewer than one in ten (7%) think it is not important.

Sloan continues, “Our data shows that there is a keen interest amongst the GB population to learn more about the Troubles and its impacts. It seems that a lack of awareness is not due to a lack of interest, rather the absence of measures ensuring that such knowledge is available to young people in Great Britain via the education system.”

Cross-jurisdictional Cooperation

The data also supports a cross-jurisdictional approach to addressing legacy and the needs of victims and survivors. The Great British public are most likely to think it is important that the Northern Ireland Executive has a role in addressing the legacy of the Troubles (84%), along with the UK Government (81%) and the Republic of Ireland Government (80%).

“This is a crucial set of figures”, according to Sloan. “Across our surveys, cross-jurisdictional collaboration on legacy issues has received immense support. The Commission believes that dedicated and sustained cross-government cooperation is imperative in addressing the needs of victims and survivors, preventing future division and conflict and promoting wider reconciliation.”

Going Forward

“Going forward, we will engage with a range of stakeholders in Great Britain and elsewhere, using these findings to galvanise action amongst decision-makers to support victims and survivors and their families. Findings from the GB survey and others undertaken by the Commission have been crucial in continuing to make the case to government to act now and act together in equitably addressing the outstanding needs of victims and survivors and wider Troubles legacy issues.

The GB Population Survey report can be found here on our website: Commission for Victims and Survivors: Population Survey Great Britain (cvsni.org)


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