Workshop on Torture

Torture Workshop
Torture Workshop

Story: Sam Galbraith

I thought this workshop might be a bit distressing! But then I thought – this is the reality of some people’s lives – and gritted my teeth.

I soon got talking to a GP who told me, “Most asylum seekers are fleeing from victimisation in their own countries – imprisonment, assaults, torture, rape and threats to their lives – and are not economic migrants.”

Helen Todd of the Refugee Council read out a horrific account of being tortured that gave me an insight to the degree of suffering that people experience. Gill Martin, a psychotherapist, talked of her work with torture survivors and the impact on their children. Memories of torture may cause nightmares, headaches, vitamin D deficiency and depression over many years. Memories are often distorted and survivors are often not believed.

On a more positive note, we talked about the best way of helping people. Volunteer befrienders make a big difference in helping people find their feet in a strange land. Writing, music and art allow the expression of overwhelming feelings.

Helen Todd now works with people from Burma, many of whom have experienced violence or torture. The project is looking for local volunteers to help people settle in to the area – contact uk if you are interested.

For more information on the workshop or for future events, please contact Carita Thomas at


One such initiative is the drama group ReACT, who recently performed “Promises” at the Vestry Hall, where the audience was allowed to role-play caseworkers and refugees.

Babak Kouravand, a refugee from Iran, studied psychology at Hallam University and is a member of the drama group. He spoke of the importance of identity and integration:

“Refugees in a new country belong initially to the ‘refugee’ group. When people go to college or contribute to their community, they can call themselves students or volunteers. This makes a big difference to their lives.”

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The content on this page was added to the website by Rohan Francis on 2008-07-17 20:12:15.
The content of the page was last modified by Rohan Francis on 2008-07-20 17:25:48.

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