This is a registered charity (number 1000340) which is unique in the UK: it works exclusively with the survivors of torture and organised violence. The services it provides include medical care for injuries, physiotherapy, counselling, and art and music therapy. It also documents torture and provides evidence for people's asylum applications, documents torture in general to help with statistics and Amnesty International campaigns, and produces reports on torture and refugees in various countries.
Since the Foundation began in 1985 (it started off as the medical group of Amnesty International), it has helped something like 25,000 clients, almost all of whom have been refugees. It is truly frightening to think that a lot of their clients have had their claims for asylum initially rejected by the Home Office, who would have sent them back to the country in which they were persecuted. According to its website, it sees around 5,000 people per year. Turkey is currently the country providing the most Foundation clients. Actually, I remember targetting Turkey with our letters when I was in my school's Amnesty International group. Guess it hasn't got any better.
The aims of the Medical Foundation, as stated on their website, are to:
- "Provide survivors of torture in the United Kingdom with medical treatment, practical assistance and psychotherapeutic support"
- "Document evidence of torture"
- "Provide training for health professionals working with torture survivors"
- "Educate the public and decision-makers about torture and its consequences"
- "Ensure that Britain honours its international obligations towards survivors of torture, asylum seekers and refugees."
The Medical Foundation was set up because the care offered to refugees who were victims of torture was inadequate. Now, no-one really considers that refugees may be fleeing from real persecution, at least as far as one can tell from the Right-wing British press. There was much resistance to the taking in of Kosovan gypsy refugees, and yet Kosovo is one of the top ten countries from which the Foundations clients are fleeing. There is too much coverage of the "floods" (more like trickles) of refugees, and whether they are just economic migrants, whether they will lower housing prices, for pity's sake. Amongst this, someone has to be looking after the actual refugees, particularly those who need medical care. I wish the job did not have to be done, but I'm glad that the Medical Foundation are doing it.
Their website can be found at http://www.torturecare.org.uk.