COVID-19 – how is Freedom from Torture responding?

We are doing everything we can to support our clients in these challenging and uncertain times. We will continue to provide one to one therapy sessions by phone or online, and we will be proactively checking on our most vulnerable clients once a week.

We will offer legal and welfare advice over the phone or online. People can still be referred to our services: we will accept new referrals and identify who we can take on but these people will be placed on a waiting list and we will not be doing any initial assessments or providing a service to any new clients until the peak of the pandemic has passed.

Many of our clients live in desperately impoverished circumstances and we are doing our utmost to ensure they have enough to live on if they need to self-isolate by ramping up our emergency relief fund provision. We are posting gift cards to people to be able to order food and essentials. We are helping clients with top up cards for phones so they are able to make calls and access the internet. And we are providing financial relief for longer. We are currently running an urgent appeal to help finance this extra support.

We have raised urgent concerns with the government about access for asylum seekers and refugees to healthcare, emergency measures to support their self-isolation and social distancing, and the grave risks for immigration detainees. We have written a letter to the Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer, co-signed by 60 other organisations, that calls for asylum support allowance to be increased by £20 per week in line with increases to Universal Credit - and we have launched a petition calling on our supporters to join us.

The government has committed to making medical treatment for COVID-19 free and has lifted requirements for asylum seekers to submit evidence to support their asylum claim in person. We have also received assurances that the government will allow us extra time to submit medico-legal reports.

Please do contact us if you have any queries or concerns. We wish you well.