A newly formed group of survivors of childhood abuse in care is planning a vigil in Edinburgh at the public launch of an inquiry expected to be Scotland's largest ever.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) will begin to hear evidence in public from May 31st, when campaigners say they will hold a vigil to help raise awareness of its work.

The new group SAFE (Seek and Find Everyone abused in childhood) is calling on politicians and the inquiry team itself to support a minute's silence for abuse victims and says its aim is to encourage more people to come forward and give evidence to the inquiry.

However critics said that if people were already in two minds about revealing that they had been abused, the presence of a demonstration outside the venue for the inquiry was more likely to put them off.

The inquiry, which has so far cost more than £5.7 million, is charged with investigating abuse within state care at any time in the living memory of victims. This includes physical and sexual abuse, but also psychological and spiritual abuse, and settings range from council-run residential schools and children's homes to church and charity-run projects and foster care.

Dave Sharp, who was raped and sexually and physically abused as a child in the notorious St Ninian's home run by the Christian Brothers in Fife, said too little effort had been put into publicising the inquiry, amid concerns only around 200 historic abuse survivors had come forward to give testimony.

"The plan is for the vigil to be from 9am till 5pm," he said. "At 1pm we will all stop for a minutes silence to remember all the children whose lives were lost or taken because of child abuse and also to remember all the survivors who died without ever seeing justice.

"What we are asking for is the leaders of all the political parties in Scotland to join us and for the first minister to light the first candle and hopefully lay a wreath or a bunch of flowers in memory of all the lost children."

The SCAI has used leaflets and radio advertisements to publicise it's work, but Mr Sharp criticised efforts to advertise for participants, and said the inquiry should involve abuse survivors to encourage other victims to come forward. He added: “Just before last Christmas John Swinney, the cabinet secretary with responsibility for the abuse inquiry, said that there are roughly 2500 survivors of historical institutional child abuse in Scotland. But we’re asking what has been done to find them.

"Survivors are looking for people who understand and have been through their vulnerabilities and uncertainties and S.A.F.E wants to help them find a path to justice and to have their voice heard."

Janine Rennie, chief executive of abuse charity Wellbeing Scotland backed the call, adding: "John Swinney referred to over 2000 people abused in care and Police Scotland have mentioned closer to 5000. The Inquiry has seen extremely low numbers in comparison to that figure and therefore cannot be seen as reflecting the scale or impact of abuse in Scotland. By finding survivors by making them feel supported to come forward S.A.F.E. will ensure the lost voices are heard."

However Helen Holland, of the charity In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland said she was concerned vigils and demonstrations outside the inquiry's headquarters in the west end of Edinburgh could deter some people from coming forward.