Freedom from Torture - Tackling trauma - football as a therapeutic activity at Freedom from Torture in London

Tackling trauma - football as a therapeutic activity at Freedom from Torture in London

Freedom from Torture's London centre and Arsenal in the Community have together been running a football group, developed and delivered specifically for torture survivors, since 2012. The aim is to provide a safe environment in which Freedom from Torture clients can enjoy themselves through football while strengthening their overall wellbeing.

The weekly football sessions are delivered jointly by staff from Freedom from Torture and Arsenal in the Community, bringing together the expertise of each partner, and consist of warm-up activities focusing on teamwork and communication followed by short games and ending with a cool-down.

The 15-25 players see the sessions as an enjoyable opportunity to play football, while benefiting from the therapeutic elements that are integrated into the sessions. They take place at the Arsenal Hub, next to the Emirates stadium.

Arsenal in the Community is a part of Arsenal Football Club, and delivers programmes across four main themes: sport, social inclusion, education and health. It prioritises social outcomes ahead of sporting achievements and works towards its mission to create ‘a sense of belonging’.

We have different problems. We come together, enjoy the football and we forget everything. Whether we’ve had bad news, whatever, we forget while we’re in the session. It’s like medicine.

- Group member

In 2018, Arsenal and Freedom from Torture commissioned an independent evaluator to undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of the group. It showed that the group was making a significant contribution to survivors’ rehabilitation and recovery, improving members’ social, mental and physical wellbeing.

A summary version can be found here

The full assessment is available here

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