Thank you to all of our valued supporters for your ongoing commitment to helping torture survivors throughout this pandemic. Your support enabled us to deliver over 17,000 remote client sessions throughout 2020.
Having safely resumed some face-to-face services in the last few months, we will now be reverting to remote therapy for almost all of our clients until further notice, due to the escalating coronavirus crisis and national lockdown.
For some clients, face to face services are desperately needed, so we have decided against a blanket suspension of face-to-face services. We have put a raft of measures in place in our four open centres to ensure they are as safe as possible. Risk assessments have been undertaken at each centre, for each client who is returning for face-to-face services and for each staff member required to return to the office.
Many of our clients live in desperately impoverished circumstances, which are only made more difficult by the effects of the coronavirus crisis. Our emergency relief fund ensures people have enough to live on if they need to self-isolate. Thanks to your support, we were able more than quadrupled our emergency relief fund provisions during some weeks of the lockdown last year. Your ongoing support will enable us to continue to do this over the coming months.
Our priority, as it has been since the start of the pandemic, is to ensure survivors continue to safely get the vital support they need to recover and the expert evidence required for their asylum claims. We are continuing to take therapy referrals and medico legal report referrals for survivors of torture.
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people. Survivors of torture are overwhelmingly from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, and as a result they are at increased risk as the coronavirus crisis deepens across the country.
That is why we have gone to such lengths to ensure the safety of the survivors we support. It is also why we wrote to Immigration Minister Chris Philp in May 2020, along with 54 other organisations, calling for urgent measures to protect asylum seekers and people in immigration detention from the lethal risks of COVID-19.
Everyone at Freedom from Torture is incredibly grateful to our valued supporters for their help in getting us through this difficult time.