Patrick from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and ‘big brother’ Eddie from Gambia became good friends after meeting in their asylum accommodation and both attending therapy at Freedom from Torture.
Today they are actively involved in the running of Freedom from Torture as members of the Service User group. They share what Freedom from Torture means to them.
When I came here it was a new country for me and I wasn’t well. I had no family and all the asylum procedures were new to me. Having nobody to talk was really hard; I felt like I might kill myself.
When I was eventually referred to Freedom from Torture, I felt heard for the first time; this was like giving me a sense of life back.
I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have Freedom from Torture... as well as therapy, activities at Freedom from Torture like football really helped me to socialise again. And luckily I met Eddie – he’s like my big brother.
I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have Freedom from Torture; it was here that I started life in this country, and that’s the life I’m living today.
As well as therapy, activities at Freedom from Torture like football really helped me to socialise again. And luckily I met Eddie – he’s like my big brother.
I found it very difficult to go out because I never wanted to set my eyes on uniformed police. I always felt that they were after me and monitoring me. My counsellor helped me through this.
During those times it was very difficult and Freedom from Torture was a home – the only place I could trust and where I built my confidence.
At the beginning I relied on Freedom for Torture for everything – I needed money for transport here, I could get hot food here, take a shower here. At a time I was homeless. But at Freedom from Torture I felt a sense of belonging.
Now when I come here, it’s like I’m going home. Once you are in the building, you have that free mind that nothing will happen to you. You are relieved that you won’t be deported or detained. You feel secure.
Freedom from Torture brings us together. I have friends who are from Iran, Afghanistan, Cameroon and other walks of life that I met here, and we are like brothers now.
Freedom from Torture also helps us to build a family. You lost your family and friends back home. So Freedom from Torture brings us together. I have friends who are from Iran, Afghanistan, Cameroon and other walks of life that I met here, and we are like brothers now.
I also feel part of a family because as service users we are very involved in the organisation and many of the decisions. We have discussions with the board and managers and they have an open door policy; this gives me a sense of belonging.
The supporters are paramount to all of this. All of this needs money. The money they give, they may think it’s small but it’s putting smiles on a lot of people’s faces. It means so much to somebody who never thought that they would regain what they have lost.
I can say this another way. Donating is not just helping: it is also really saving people’s lives. Because helping someone can be more effective than you know. It can help someone who is at the point of giving up. A little help can bring a person back. And that person can then help other people; help save other lives.
Today as service users, we are here to help the organisation so it can help other people as well. Because it did save us and it can save other people too.
We know how it feels being tortured, what survivors have been through, and that people are being tortured now. So we’re really praying that this organisation can continue the service that it’s doing for people. Because it’s really saving lives.
People who have survived torture understand better than anyone how it destroys lives, and what kinds of support survivors need to be able to heal. So at Freedom from Torture, our collaboration with services users and the Survivors Speak OUT activist network is a vital part of what we do.
A donation of just £3 a month can help us continue to run individual therapy sessions, groups like football and gardening, and our Service User group, empowering people who have been tortured to heal and find hope for themselves and others. Please donate today.