Freedom from Torture supports survivors of torture to make their voices heard. We do this by creating platforms and enabling groups like Survivors Speak OUT (SSO), a survivor-led activist network, and Write to Life, our creative writing and performance group, to influence decision makers and raise public awareness of torture and its impact.
Through Survivor Activism, we promote survivor-led interventions in public spaces, and policy debates about torture and the rights of survivors of torture as a means of ensuring that their real, and not perceived, priorities and needs are taken into account.
“…Governments need to be consulting survivors, who are the experts, rather than the top-down method...I have been encouraged by this conversation and I think [SSO] are a very promising way of moving forward” ~ Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Survivors Speak OUT (SSO) is a national network of torture survivors and former clients of Freedom from Torture. SSO was set up by survivors, for survivors, to speak with authority on issues of torture including those that impact their lives here in the UK.
The network talks to youth audiences at colleges and universities around the country, briefs government ministers and shadow ministers, provides evidence to parliamentary inquiries and other independent scrutiny bodies, and advises government departments on how best to engage survivors of torture and other forms violence.
The survivor-led structure and approach is unique. The network is not case studies or 'testimonies' whose voices are appropriated by others in the fight against torture but experts seeking their own opportunities to engage and influence others.
Write to Life is the creative writing and performance group at Freedom from Torture. The group supports current and former clients to develop a love of writing and more recently performance. Members of the group read all over the country, write for online and print publications, and star in both live theatre and film.
You can read more of our members' library of writings and find out about their past and current performances below.
Write to Life is the longest-running refugee writing group in Britain. Its first external partnership began back in 2005 with the Edinburgh International Book Festival when its members' writings were read to audiences of hundreds by distinguished authors. Over a decade later, its members have performed in front of thousands and built a respected name for itself. Write to Life is the only group specifically for survivors of torture.
Watch this space for a new Youth Voices Project that Freedom from Torture will launch later this year to support young torture survivors to have a more vocal and visible presence in influencing spaces in the UK. We want to ensure that their lived perspectives are understood and given more prominence in the minds of decision makers and the wider general public.
We will also be publishing material about participatory approaches with torture survivors including how to build, support and sustain more survivor-centred and survivor-led approaches to activism.
To find out more, contact Shameem Sadiq-Tang, Survivor Activism Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Survivors Speak OUT is the most advanced participatory model of survivor activism right now
~ Victor Madrigal Borloz, the Secretary General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
I could have passed that man on the street and never had known what he had gone through and how hard it was for him to adapt to the UK. The speaker made me really think about human rights abuse and how we can try and stop it
~ Jamilla, Camden School for Girls, London.
What happened to me, the marks on my body, the memories, they are going to be my souvenirs. I want to show people how I feel. In my struggle I did not have a voice and I want the world to know the truth. Talking, acting, writing about it: it's another way to free myself
~ Tracy from Write to Life
When I write, I feel free from myself. Back home I wrote a diary of everything I had been through. I used to write down all the angry bad things that happened to me, and it just gave me bad memories. Then somebody told me to write down the good things, and then you can help people who’ve had the same experience
~Joy from Write to Life
I am very grateful to Freedom from Torture, Survivors Speak OUT and all the clients I have met today for telling me their powerful stories. There are lots of issues to deal with and I will definitely be raising them with the Home Office