Freedom from Torture - MF fundraiser is 'Simply the Best'

MF fundraiser is 'Simply the Best'

Abigail Burdess: Simply the bestCombining life as a fundraiser and life as a comic has earned Abigail Burdess a place in a list of Britain's 100 unsung heroines.

In a poll conducted by The Guardian women were nominated for playing a pivotal role in society today, whether through their creative exploits, lobbying efforts or charitable spirit. Abigail's work, both at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and on the comedy circuit stood out from the avalanche of nominees as she combines all three.

At the MF, she secures major funds from grant-giving bodies such as the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and the European Union and Volunteering. Finding funds for the core costs of the charity as well as to resource occasional projects is a vital part of the MF's work.

Each year Abigail writes and submits detailed torture survivor case studies to the UN Voluntary Fund to demonstrate their plight. "I read the client's stories first-hand, and it's a privilege. I'm continually amazed by their strength," says Abigail, who has worked at the organisation for six years. "They've survived pain which is unimaginable, and I like to think I've got a pretty good imagination. Care they have a right to, at the right time, can make all the difference in the world."

Conveying their great sense of suffering and resilience is something she is deeply passionate about. And, her heartfelt delivery, whether talking about people brutalised by governments or when composing her stand up routines, is essential in getting the message across.

"The MF has the largest archive of torture testimonies in the world, which is an incredibly valuable tool," says Abigail.

Raising money for people whose lives have often been torn apart because they stood up against tyranny or whose most basic of human rights were violated makes Abigail intensely aware of her own freedom. In her stand-up routine she openly lends a comical slant to controversial subjects such as religious intolerance.

"People tend to think it's a bit strange, writing about torture one day and jokes the next, but there's a conceptual link between the two," she says. "I live in a country where I can get up on stage and say what I like. I can see that's a freedom worth fighting for."

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