Helen Bamber to step down as torture charity chief
Helen Bamber, the founder of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, has announced that she will step down in the near future as director of the charity.
Mrs Bamber, who is 76, believes that with work due to start later this year on a purpose built new treatment centre in north London, it is an appropriate time to start the search for a successor.
"This has not been an easy decision for me to reach," she said yesterday. "But the opening of the new centre will mark the start of a new era for the Foundation. I believe it is only right that someone fresh should be at the helm to guide the organisation into the next phase of its development."
"However, I have no intention of retiring completely, and will be available to the Medical Foundation for specific tasks if needed, whether as a counsellor, fundraiser or field worker."
A former campaigner with Amnesty International, Mrs Bamber set up the Medical Foundation in 1985 to help refugees, former political prisoners and former prisoners of war who had been physically and psychologically damaged by torture.
It started life in borrowed rooms in the Temperance Hospital, north London, before moving to Kentish Town, where more than 200 paid and volunteer staff now work, offering medical treatment, practical assistance, counselling, psychotherapy and physiotherapy to victims of torture and organised violence.
Over the past 16 years it has helped more than 25,000 clients, with demand for its services now so great that lengthy waiting lists have built up. Unable to expand by recruiting extra staff at its existing premises, the Medical Foundation last year launched a GBP4.7m appeal for a new centre in Finsbury Park which it's hoped will be completed by early 2003.
Rex Bloomstein, chairman of the Medical Foundation trustees, paid tribute to Mrs Bamber saying: "Without her selfless dedication to the task of developing the Foundation, it could never have grown into the widely respected organisation that it has become. Her commitment has been nothing less than extraordinary. The trustees, staff and literally thousands of clients owe her an enormous debt of gratitude."
Further information from Medical Foundation press office 0207 813 3445