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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Charity forced to turn away hundreds of torture victims

This news post is over 6 years old

Freedom from Torture’s Glasgow based centre doesn’t have the resources to meet demand

A charity which helps survivors of torture rebuild their lives was forced to turn away hundreds of people last year as it didn’t have the resources to help them.

Staff at the Freedom from Torture treatment and assessment centre in Glasgow, say it cannot cope with an influx of refugees and asylum seekers from Syria and has only been able to help one in three of those referred.

The charity, which provides counselling and psychotherapy services and can write forensic medical reports for use in asylum claims, managed to support 170 people last year.

However, staff fear that it’s only reaching a tiny percentage of those in need of help in the city.

With almost 2,000 Syrians living across Scotland, and figures suggesting that around 55% of those who have experienced torture or violence in refugee camps, the charity is worried there are hundreds more it hasn’t even heard from.

Speaking in the National newspaper, Norma McKinnon, resident psychotherapist and manager of the Glasgow centre, said: “We are saying no to a lot of referrals. It’s the worst part of the week when we read through referrals because you are saying no to critical cases, but we are not big enough.

“We need to be bigger, but we don’t need to be the only people to do what we do.”

The charity is now trying to launch a pilot project to reach those living outwith Glasgow.

It is understood to be negotiating to set up a base in three more local authority areas while examining other ways to meet demands in its Glasgow centre, including looking to other organisations for support.

“If people aren’t getting access to services, services have to look at other ways to deliver,” McKinnon added.

“You don’t go through life-changing events and come out the same. I don’t think there is anything you can say that actually articulates the kind of suffering you see and how long that lasts.

“The referrals themselves are often really difficult to read. With Syrians who come here through the resettlement plan, we know that 55 per cent have experienced torture or violence.”



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Angus McKay
over 6 years ago
"we know that 55 per cent have experienced torture or violence.”That’s what they tell you … to get this … "forensic medical reports for use in asylum claims."