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Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture: Wikis

  

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The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, also known as the Medical Foundation (MF), is a British registered charity dedicated solely to the treatment of torture survivors.

A registered charity established in 1985, more than 45,000 people have been referred to the MF for help since its inception.

The MF provides medical and psychological documentation of torture, a range of therapies, including psychotherapy, individual and family counselling, physiotherapy and complementary therapies and group work as well as practical advice and support. It trains health professionals and others throughout the UK to work with torture survivors.

Central to the MF's vision are efforts to educate the public and decision makers about torture and its consequences, and through advocacy work strives to ensure that the UK honours its international obligations towards survivors of torture, asylum seekers and refugees.

Most importantly, the MF is a place where survivors' experiences are recognised and where they can safely express their grief while working towards recovery.

Contents

History

The MF's work began more than 25 years ago under the auspices of the Medical Group of Amnesty International. Volunteer health professionals, including some of the most senior specialists in the medical profession, campaigned against violations of human rights and documented evidence of torture.

During those years much expertise was gained by clinicians, working both abroad and in the UK where it became apparent that the existing health services did not meet the needs of survivors of torture who had fled into exile.

In 1985, under the leadership of Helen Bamber, the MF was set up to provide survivors with medical treatment, counselling and therapy and to document evidence of torture. The heads of three the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Royal College of Surgeons of England agreed to sponsor the organisation.

From an inauspicious start in two rooms in the former National Temperance Hospital, off Hampstead Road in north-west London, the work of the MF grew rapidly. In 1990, with the organisation seeing 750 clients a year, it moved to new premises in Grafton Road, Kentish Town.

The first centre outside London opened in Manchester, serving England’s north-west, in late 2003.

In 2004, the London headquarters moved into a £5.8m purpose built new treatment centre in Isledon Road, Finsbury Park. MF’s Scotland centre opened in Glasgow soon afterwards, followed by the Newcastle centre providing services across the north-east, in 2006.

MF's chief executive officer is Simon Carruth, former MF Director of Finance, who originally joined the organisation in 1991.

Treatment provided at the MF

All services are provided free of charge, including medical consultation, examination and forensic documentation of injuries through medico-legal reports, psychological and physical treatment and support, and practical help.

Some 200 paid and voluntary staff are employed across the MF's four centres, including medical doctors, caseworkers, counsellors, legal advisors, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, psychologists, interpreters, child and family therapists and group workers.

Available for all services, the MF employs 75 interpreters who work in some 50 regular languages and dialects, and additional languages can be catered for.

MF centres throughout the UK

The MF’s main treatment centre is in London, with branches in Manchester covering England's north-west, Newcastle covering the north-east and Glasgow covering the whole of Scotland.

The services offered by the national centres are constantly evolving to meet the needs of a growing population of torture surviving asylum seekers dispersed outside of London.

Facts and figures

Since its inception in 1985, over 45,000 people have been referred to the MF.

In 2007, the MF’s four centres received nearly 2,000 new requests for help. Clients came from almost 100 countries, with significant numbers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Sri Lanka and Sudan.

About 50% of clients referred are from African nations, 20% from the Middle East, 18% from Asia and 8% from Europe.

Men account for about 58% of the MF’s clients, with women comprising about 35% and children 7%.

The majority of the MF’s clients are men aged 25-34 years, although clients aged over 60 and children as young as seven years old have been referred for help.

Ninety-nine per cent of MF clients are asylum seekers or refugees, who have fled torture and persecution usually in their home countries and are coping not just with past suffering but also the trauma of living in exile.

Medico-legal reports

MF doctors are trained in preparing medico-legal reports (MLRs), which document the degree of consistency between the attribution given to the survivor's injuries and their probable causation.

In producing MLRs, clients are asked to give a full history of their ill-treatment. Scars are scrutinised, with doctors checking for other injuries such as badly healed fractures, lacerations and burns, crushing to the soles of the feet from repeated beatings (falaka), damaged ligaments or chronic bone infection.

MLRs are prepared in accordance with the United Nations Istanbul Protocol which provides a clear set of guidelines for the examination and documentation of torture and its consequences by medical experts.

Only in rare cases can the doctor state categorically that a scar or other injury could not have been caused in any way other than torture. In line with the Istanbul Protocol, the doctor indicates the degree of consistency between the injury when evaluated according to clinical criteria derived from the MF's experience in this area and the client's account of how it occurred.

Draft reports are read back to clients, which can trigger further memories of events. When complete, the reports are finally reviewed by a senior doctor and legal officer, before being approved and sent to the survivor's legal representative for use in their asylum claim.

MLR's are prepared by MF doctors, caseworker counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Funding

Believing that impartiality and independence are crucial to its mission of advocating for the rights of torture survivors and its clients, the MF does not accept Government funding. The only exception to that rule is funding from the Department of Health which is put strictly and solely towards the production of guidelines for assessing torture survivors and to train health professionals.

Donations from individuals provide the core income for the Foundation's work. In 2007, such individual donations contributed about 70% of the Foundation's budget. (£5,719,897 of a total income of £8,189,435.)

Contact

Medical Foundation London: 111 Isledon Road, Islington, London, N7 7JW.

Telephone: +44 (0) 207 697 7777, Facsimilie:+44 (0) 207 697 7799

Medical Foundation North West: 1st Floor North Square, 11-13 Spear Street, Manchester, M1 1JU.

Telephone: +44 (0) 161 236 5744, Facsimilie:+44 (0) 161 244 5577

Medical Foundation North East: The Alan Smithson Rooms, City House, 1-3 City Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 2AF.

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 261 5825, Facsimilie:+44 (0) 191 222 1211

Medical Foundation Scotland: Room 27, Adelphi Centre, 12 Commercial Road, Glasgow, G5 0PQ.

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 420 3161, Facsimilie:+44 (0) 141 429 6578

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