‘In reality, I spent the first year looking at underground maps, drawing and connecting grids of lines between refugee centres, the Home Office, solicitors, tube stations and ever-changing addresses in bad-smelling hostels.’
Hassan from Freedom from Torture’s Write to Life group
For Freedom from Torture’s clients, life in the UK is not just a psychological struggle with painful memories, but also a series of problems posed by the asylum process and beginning life in a new country. Clients can feel helpless as they encounter obstacle after obstacle in their new everyday lives, such as finding a safe place to live, struggling with new language and finding a way to survive on very little money. Those who are granted leave to remain in the country sometimes struggle to find work or continue their education.
Freedom from Torture welfare advisors work holistically, providing advocacy, counselling and practical advice for clients, who are an extremely vulnerable group. By working in close liaison with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), JobCentres, social services and local authorities, welfare advisors serve as powerful advocates for torture survivors.
'The accommodation offered to single people, which is damp, noisy and lacking in adequate facilities, reminds our clients of prison, whilst sharing accommodation with strangers can make them fearful and depressed. Our clients often face racial abuse and harrassment. Institutional racism was addressed in the Race Relations Act Amendment in 1999, but there is little evidence of benefit to marginalised groups such as refugees.'
Freedom from Torture welfare advisor Asefa Qayyum