Freedom from Torture: our new name

On 17 June 2011, Freedom from Torture became the new name for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. Here we explain the reasons for changing our name and what we hope to achieve with our new name.

'It's a fantastic and memorable name. I'm already looking forward to using it when I address the public about our important work.' – John McCarthy, Freedom from Torture Patron

Freedom from Torture, the new name for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, is:

  • Memorable: we need to concisely convey our vision to torture survivors, supporters and other stakeholders alike.

  • Aspirational: we continue to work towards a world where torture and organised violence are vanquished and where their lasting consequences are recognised and redressed.

  • Inclusive: working holistically to meet the needs of torture survivors, we combine medical assistance with a wide range of therapies and practical support as well as standing with survivors to speak out against torture.

Over our 25 year history we have established a wealth of expertise and are widely respected as leaders in our field. Our new name will help us to face the challenges of a changing communications environment by addressing practical considerations (such as succinctness) whilst continuing to convey the values we stand for.

We are not changing our services or strategic direction. We work holistically to provide direct care to torture survivors and promote their rights so they can start to rebuild their lives. Our new name allows us to encapsulate all aspects of the wider scope of our work.

From 17 June, we will be known as Freedom from Torture. We will be holding events and conducting media work and publicity at this time and throughout Refugee Week to mark the change, when we will join others around the world in standing with survivors to mark the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture remains our name in all legal and financial dealings and will be used in conjunction with our new name as part of our logo for the foreseeable future, as demonstrated above.

Which services do you offer?

We have specially trained doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and therapists who work with survivors of torture in a variety of settings. Some clients receive one-to-one therapy; others attend one of the many therapeutic or support groups we offer, including gardening, art and music therapy. We also provide a medico-legal report (MLRs) service - commissioned by lawyers, these reports document the effects of torture on an individual and are submitted to support asylum applications. Our advocacy, policy, external training and campaigns work builds on our aim to protect survivors and prevent torture by educating the public and decision makers about the reality and consequences of torture and pressing for positive change.

How will the new name increase voluntary funding?

We exist and are able to survive in this economic climate largely as a direct result of the income received from individual donors. An important part of this is recruiting new donors and our research showed that the lengthy name of the organisation may be a barrier to new supporters getting involved. Building a stronger organisational identity will help audiences to recognise us and understand our work clearly so that we are able to gain new supporters.

Why did you choose the name 'Freedom from Torture'?

We undertook an extensive consultation process to determine the new name, involving a wide range of stakeholders including survivors, supporters, staff and partners. The vast majority of respondents felt that the word 'torture' should be present in our new name as we remain the only organisation in the UK dedicated exclusively to providing care and treatment to survivors of torture. 'Freedom' is a strong word to have at the start of the name – it evokes a sense of aspiration and is expressive of our mission to see a world where torture and organised violence are vanquished and where their lasting consequences are recognised and redressed.

How much has been spent on changing your name and organisational identity?

Cost and value for money are of course central concerns. The total cost of the project was £20,000, all of which was taken from an under-spend by the Fundraising department. This enabled us to include as many people as possible in the consultation process and to ensure we benefited from the expertise necessary to ensure that this project is a success.