People who have been tortured are not always able to overcome the effects of torture immediately after the torture has ceased. They often continue to suffer from many physical injuries incurred from the torture and are often left with psychological issues. Moreover, they may find it difficult to adjust to a new life and have issues integrating into a new community.
To make things easier for torture survivors, there are a number of charities and organisations that aim to help torture survivors rehabilitate. They contribute to making their clients heal from their damaging experience in lots of different ways, including physical rehabilitation, psychological therapy and help with legal and bureaucratic processes. Here are six charities and organisations that provide direct or indirect care for torture survivors.
- The International Rehabilitation Council For Torture Victims (IRCT)
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, also known by their acronym IRCT, do not help torture suffers directly. Instead, they govern a network of torture rehabilitation centres – some of which follow – in 74 countries. Their aim is to share good practice between rehabilitation centres and create a community between the different groups. It is a way to join forces between charities and organisations that strive for the same goals. They are also influential in helping other centres open.
- The Helen Bamber Foundation
Helen Bamber, OBE, started by helping Holocaust survivors in concentration camps and went on to become a key figure in other UK-based charities that provide support for torture survivors. The Helen Bamber Foundation is her own charity dedicated to the cause and consisted of a highly skilled team. Her team includes psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, lawyers, housing experts and doctors. Together they offer torture survivors a holistic programme to address all areas of life following torture. Their process follows a logical three-stage system to provide care in a timely manner.
- Freedom From Torture
Freedom from Torture is a well-known UK-based charity directly helping torture survivors and a member of the IRCT. They were known by their former name, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, when they were founded by Helen Bamber, OBE. They run five centres across the UK with a smaller presence in two more locations. They offer psychological therapy, social groups to aid integration into the community, legal help and help with Medico-Legal Reports (MLR) when applying for asylum. They also run groups such as Survivors Speak OUT to help influence people in power.
- REDRESS UK
REDRESS UK are a small London-based organisation who aim to help torture survivors in a slightly more niche way that the other charities and organisations listed here. They are able to put torture survivors in touch with doctors and councillors when required, but that is not part of their service. They use the law to help torture survivors with their rehabilitation. Specifically, they seek legal action and justice on behalf of the client and attempt to make those responsible accountable for their damaging actions. REDRESS UK provide their legal services completely free of charge for successful applicants.
- Room To Heal
Room to Heal are a torture rehabilitation centre who are also a member of the IRCT. Their programme specifically helps asylum seekers and focuses on a sense of community as a way of redirecting their clients’ lives away from torture. If accepted onto their programme, the torture survivor will be given short-term individual therapy.
Thereafter, the individual will be integrated into support and social groups where activities such as therapeutic gardening, social lunches and workshops will be attended. Clients even get the opportunity to go on bi-annual retreats. Other streams of support such as welfare, accommodation and finance are sourced externally with the charity’s partners to complete a holistic approach to dealing with the aftermath of torture.
- The Refugee Therapy Centre
The Refugee Therapy Centre are a similar outfit to Room to Heal because they are also members of the IRCT and also direct their torture-rehabilitation services to asylum seekers and refugees. However, they are different from Room to Heal because they focus on helping their clients with counselling and psychotherapy. They offer different types of psychological therapy, including family, child, group and couple sessions. They also offer intercultural training and mentoring services.
These are six of the best charities and organisations dedicated to helping victims of torture move on with their lives and prevent the aftermath of torture turning into continued suffering. It is evident that these groups, and many others, strive for the same goals but in different ways. Some of the bigger and more established organisations are able to provide in-house holistic care while others focus on a specific part of torture rehabilitation and outsource other needs to partners and external groups.