Healing Neighbourhoods: ‘Thriving People, Thriving Places’ 2018

Healing Neighbourhoods is a community development project integrated within Freedom from Torture’s existing high-intensity clinical services. The focus is on enhancing survivors’ rehabilitation and integration through the development of community-based psychosocial support networks...

It seeks to empower survivors of torture and members of host communities to work collectively towards building healing, community-led support through a wide range of psychosocial wellbeing activities. Healing Neighbourhoods is a collaborative project with funding from Big Lottery and Scottish Government.

Through peer community mapping and engagement, participants identify and engage with existing groups, services and facilities within their neighbourhood. Care plans are dynamic and reflexive and ensure survivors have the opportunity to contribute to activities that promote healing and integration in the community. Community Workers have begun to establish groups and have planned activities throughout the city, including a Therapeutic Group exploring resilience, a 'Discover Glasgow' Group and Gardening Group.

Survivors will become more independent, healthy, active citizens, engaging with other community members in their local neighbourhood, as opposed to being passive recipients of services. This level of empowerment is widely recognised as a strong indication of rehabilitation recovery and integration, with the aim of leading to increased local community cohesion.

Thriving Places, Thriving People

As part of the Healing Neighbourhoods initiative, the Thriving Places, Thriving People programme aimed to facilitate and support the rehabilitation, integration and empowerment of torture survivors through a therapeutic and creative process.

Weekly group sessions were co-facilitated by a Group-worker Psychological Therapist and a Community Development Worker, with support from a volunteer Community Connector artist. Sessions supported participants to explore their own concept of what it means to ‘thrive’, in relation to themselves and each other as people, and in relation to the places and spaces they inhabit. The group offered people the chance to try something new, meet new people and share ideas through psychodrama and creative action methods, building confidence, improving their health and wellbeing, and having fun.

The group went on to create a short film exploring key themes from the content explored in these weekly group sessions. Each group member contributed to the film, sharing their experiences as asylum seekers coming to the UK, as clients of Freedom from Torture, and of their hopes and dreams for the future. With the support of a local film production company, the group participants were actively involved in the filming and editing process, from scripting to camera work and sound recording through to agreeing on the final cut.

Filming took place at Freedom from Torture’s Healing Garden, originally situated within the Caledonian Road Church in the Gorbals, Glasgow. This was a garden space used regularly by FfT service users, designed to be ‘a place to support all living things to thrive’. The film was subsequently screened at this site as part of the Festival 2018 ‘Haud the Bus’ Gorbals community event, alongside a bus shelter art installation which the group created to further represent their experiences on the theme of ‘what we need to thrive’.