Freedom from Torture wins top prize at the Charity Awards 2023

We're delighted to announce that we've won the Overall Award for Excellence at this year’s Charity Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious awards scheme in the charity sector. 

As well as winning the top prize in the Campaigning & Advocacy category, Freedom from Torture was chosen as the Overall Winner by this year’s judges for our creative and successful campaign to stop airlines from flying refugees to Rwanda as part of the government’s new anti-refugee agenda. 

The Stop the Flights campaign focused on the UK government’s plans to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda to process asylum claims. Horrified by this announcement in April 2022 – especially as survivors of torture were among those being threatened with removal – Freedom from Torture formulated a campaign that specifically targeted the six airlines that were shortlisted for the flight contracts, transporting refugees to Rwanda.  

Torture survivors contributed directly to the design and implementation of the campaign, and many signed up for a campaign leadership programme, learning the components of organising and campaign strategy. 

The awards are helping send a clear message: Not in our name.

Can you help us keep up the fight against the government's cruel plans, continue championing a fairer asylum system, and provide therapy, financial assistance and ongoing support to survivors? 

CEO Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive of Freedom from Torture, said: "Last night's victory was a huge statement by the charity sector against this government's cash-for-humans plan to fly refugees to Rwanda. Collectively they have stated clearly: not in our name. Our survivor-led #StopTheFlights campaign successfully compelled 4 out the 6 airlines who were willing to profit from the pain of refugees to pull out of the scheme. It is absolutely imperative that we, as a caring nation, take action against what this government is doing.” 

Charity Awards judge Ruth Davison praised the creativity and cost-effectiveness of the campaign, saying “This is what happens when you really embed a genuine commitment to lived experience throughout your organisation, as they have done for over a decade. And even if they haven’t permanently stopped this policy, they have shifted the public debate – you can see it coming up again and again, the questioning of whether this is an OK way to behave as a nation, as a society.” 

Judge Karin Woodley was impressed by the charity’s “masterstroke” tactic of embarrassing the government by shaming their private-sector partners, as well as its efforts to highlight that many of those being targeted for deportation were survivors of torture. She described the campaign as a “very contemporary, 21st-century approach.”

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Ast the government scapegoats people who have fled persecution, their tactics get uglier and uglier. When we come together to stand up to injustice, we can win. Can you help us?