The Helen Bamber Foundation (HBF) is a London-based charity that specialises in helping those that have had their human rights violated. This includes all torture survivors but extends to specific types of torture such as human trafficking, rape or gender and domestic violence. Many of their clients suffer from extensive physical and psychological trauma due to their ordeal.
The UK charity was set up in 2005 by Helen Bamber OBE. Ms. Bamber dedicated her entire life to helping torture survivors. Her narrative started when she travelled to help Holocaust survivors in a concentration camp. She also played an influential role in setting up The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims and Torture – now known as Freedom for Torture.
The Helen Bamber Foundation is a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, lawyers, housing experts and doctors. Their team enables the charity to provide torture survivors with an array of services that make moving on from torture much easier.
The foundation will provide torture survivors with therapeutic measures to make positive emotional and mental steps. The deepest scars of torture are often mental, which is why it is important to provide these people with psychiatric treatment and counselling to prevent torture materialising into long-term suffering. These sessions can be one-on-one sessions, group sessions or even include family therapy.
Torture survivors often show signs of physical injury or untreated conditions and illnesses. The UK-based charity offers survivors the chance to get longer appointments with in-house doctors. This enables clients to be thoroughly examined and any injuries stemming from their torture can then be identified. Interpreters are also provided for the consultations when required. The results from the assessments can then be passed on to NHS doctors for continued treatment.
It is not uncommon for torture survivors to have substantial injuries that cause chronic pain and prevent movement. For these people, the Helen Bamber Foundation offers physical rehabilitation and special treatments. Due to their partnership with a well-established London gym chain, the foundation will also provide clients with free memberships where they can access fitness equipment, exercise classes and swimming pools.
To help torture survivors rebuild their lives, the charity runs social groups that aim to make the transition into a new environment much easier. They do this so the client gets to meet people who are in a similar situation to form friendships and contacts.
The foundation will also promote education to the clients by helping with application forms for courses and financial grants, as well as attending appointments with the torture survivors at local educational institutes if needed. To help clients get back into work, the charity can call upon the resources of partners to find volunteer programmes and help write CVs.
One other way the charity will help the torture survivor to integrate into the community is through their Creative Arts Programme. This programme includes different activities to provide fun and useful activities for clients. Some examples of these activities are photography, computer, English, art, football and knitting groups.
The Helen Bamber Foundation will produce Medico-Legal Reports (MLR) for their clients. These reports assess the extent of physical and emotional damage caused by torture and are used by the courts to assess applications for asylum. This is completed in-house and with external firms that donate their time.
Welfare And Housing
Another service provided by the foundation is to help clients find permanent accommodation and financial aid. Many torture survivors are vulnerable and do not attempt to find stable housing. The charity has its own team of welfare and housing specialists which help clients find emergency housing and immediate financial support.
A more instance-specific service run by The Helen Bamber Foundation is counter trafficking. This service is aimed at those who have been forced into human trafficking, forced labour or sexual exploitation. They even run a unique project which has contributed to influencing policy within the UK.
The foundation has a specific way of implementing the services listed above to provide clients with the appropriate care in a timely manner. They will not just initiate all services at once or in any random order. There is a three-stage plan to help torture survivors in the best way possible.
The first stage will focus on securing safe accommodation for the client and attempting to better their financial situation by sourcing applicable welfare for their situation. The next stage is to look into the client’s physical and emotional health and provide any necessary treatments. The final step will be to find legal protection and look into educational or employment opportunities.
Visit The Helen Bamber Foundation website for more information on any of their listed services, as well as information regarding their fundraising, volunteering and career opportunities.