Freedom from Torture celebrates twenty years of Refugee Week

This year Refugee Week celebrates its 20th anniversary. It’s a time to reflect on the situation of refugees and to celebrate the contribution made by refugees to British life. Freedom from Torture is proud to be part of Refugee Week and to bring our special perspective and expertise in supporting torture survivors to this year’s events.

Throughout the week we will be publishing stories, blogs and videos on our website showcasing our work with survivors of torture, and listening to their voices. We will be spreading them via social media on our twitter account @freefromtorture and facebook.

An anniversary feature this year will be our contribution to 20 Simple Acts, with 20 contributions from torture survivor authors, members of our wonderful Write to Life creative writing group. By a happy co-incidence, Write to Life is also celebrating twenty years. 

Freedom from Torture will start Refugee Week on Sunday 17 June with performances in words and music from Write to Life authors from Burundi, Cuba, Iran and Uganda in Lost and Found, in Gallery 4 at London’s world famous Victoria and Albert Museum. Write to Life authors will also be performing new work a week later on Sunday 24 June , this time in the the British Museum's Enlightment Galley at 12.30 and 2.30pm.

On 17 June everyone is welcome to join us in creating our #SharingMySanctuary banner with your personal messages in the V&A digital studio from 12 noon till 5pm.

Our colourful banner, with its message of support and sanctuary for torture survivors, for will come into its own on Wednesday 20 June, Refugee Day, when we will be close to the seat of power, in Parliament Square. We will be inviting members of the public to add their messages of support to the banner and to learn more about our work as one of the largest torture rehabilitation centres in the world.

Ideally, we would like to have MPs adding their message so why not drop a line to your MP and ask them to come along. You could even invite them to meet you there. Many MPs should be present for Prime Minister’s Questions so there is no excuse. We will be in Parliament Square from 12 noon to 3pm – so please join us.

If you can’t make it to Parliament Square you can post on social media what sanctuary means to you with #SharingMySanctuary and your post will form part of our virtual wall of sanctuary.

Later that day we are holding one of our main fundraising events – our Great Street Feast, hosted by Ian Hislop and John McCarthy and featuring some of London’s top chefs cooking up delicious gourmet street food. We will also be launching our very own recipe book, Sri Lanka: Recipes from Home, compiled by torture survivors who are members of our Tamil Group. The Great Street Feast is so popular that we have almost sold out but if you miss out this year, remember, we be doing it all again in 2019.

But it’s not all about London. There will be events in other cities as well. On Thursday 21 JuneBrighton and Hove Freedom from Torture group is hosting Speaking Silence – Sri Lanka’s Disappeared with author Minoli Salgado reading from her new novel A little dust on the eyes, at the Chapel Royal in North Street, Brighton. The event starts at 6.30pm and is free, although donations are welcome.

On Saturday 23 June, a Freedom from Torture team from our North West Centre in Manchester will be participating in the Refugee World Cup matches at Albert Park in Salford. The day is not just about football – there will be a family-fun day and Refugee Cultural Celebration - and lots of lovely food as well. Everyone is welcome.

And if you are into horticulture, please don’t miss Chorlton Open Gardens day on Sunday 24 June. For just £5 a ticket you can visit over 20 local gardens, with their finest displays of flowers and fruit, with funds coming to support Freedom from Torture’s work. Gardening is one of of the group therapies used by our therapists to support traumatised torture survivors.

Finally, further north in Newcastle, we have an international music night on Tuesday 26 June at the Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn It will be a wonderful multi-cultural musical melange with St Dominic's African Choir, local folk singer Tony Wilson, afro-latin brass and percussion duet Ladies of Midnight Blue and the fabulous Crossings Band, with asylum seekers in their lineup. Tickets are just £10, £5 for students and unwaged people, and free for asylum seekers.

What a wonderful way to end Refugee Week, saying thank you to the refugees who have contributed so much to our countries and communities.