“I feel a bit stronger, despite some other issues at least I know I can still have a new beginning.”
People seeking safety in the UK from war and violence are often deeply traumatised by what has happened in their lives. The Refugee Council Therapeutic Services works with clients to empower them to manage their situation, supporting them with crisis interventions and offering them weekly counselling sessions for up to 12 weeks.
Every day hundreds of people - adults, children on their own and whole families - from different parts of the world , set off through the vast deserts or voyage on unsafe boats across the Mediterranean to get to Europe and, they hope, sanctuary – often, as we see only too frequently, losing their lives in the attempt.
Then once they finally arrive here in the UK, many already traumatised and certainly extremely anxious, they’re faced with finding their way through our complex legal system to apply for asylum.
Some of them may be suffering from serious psychological problems such as flashbacks, depression, or night terrors, perhaps having witnessed the death of loved ones or suffered torture. They may have experienced physical and/or sexual violence, in their own countries or on their journey here.
Others may have been victims of trafficking, often after being abducted from their countries, beaten and forced to work in brothels or in marijuana ‘farms’. Many may have fled the bombing and destruction in war zones. But wherever they come from and whatever they have suffered, all will be feeling the terrible loss of having to abandon everything and everyone familiar to them.
Yet once they arrive here they’re immediately required to make official statements, attend immigration interviews and give precise details to strangers about their mistreatment, including rape and torture – a disorientating process that can be re-traumatising in itself.
It is at this point that so many of our clients come to us for support. We offer them a space to gather their thoughts, to tell their stories and to be heard. Together we can start to find ways for them to make sense of their lives, drawing on the resilience and strengths that have got them through this far. And to work with them to find ways to start the process of putting themselves together again.
We are grateful to our funders: