Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

Cycling to support survivors of torture

Our News in Brief

Cycling to support survivors of torture

3rd May 2017
Cornish couple Carolyn and Richard have saddled up to cycle 400 miles across the south west over four weeks to raise money for Freedom from Torture.

Freedom from Torture (FTT), a partner of Caritas Anchor House, supports survivors of torture to find their voices and rebuild their lives. Carolyn and Richard, FTT volunteers, help to provide a holiday hosting service where service users spend a tranquil week away in their Cornish home.

Berat*, a former resident of Caritas Anchor House, was once a guest of Carolyn and Richard. In 2011, Berat fled Turkey and came to the UK as an asylum seeker after his political beliefs led to him being tortured by the authorities. He spent two years in a shared asylum house waiting for his Leave to Remain status, and once granted, he was given 28 days to vacate the room he had been living in.

Berat spent seven months sleeping rough; he had severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and was using drugs as a means to escape his reality. He sought support from Freedom from Torture who offered psychological therapy and referred him to Caritas Anchor House in May 2014.

During his first six months at Caritas Anchor House, Berat was very withdrawn and found it difficult to build relationships. However, residents were very welcoming and supportive of Berat. He began to engage and 10 months down the line he said he felt “like a completely different person.”

He received ongoing support from his Lifestyle Architect, and also engaged with local drug and alcohol services and community mental health team. He also took up volunteering opportunities at Caritas Anchor House which gave Berat a platform and the confidence to make friends.

In the summer of 2015, Berat was invited to spend a week in the peaceful surrounds of Carolyn and Richard’s coastal home, where he went on seaside and mountain walks, and the family put on a BBQ for him. A particular highlight for Berat was being able to cook Turkish food for the hosting couple. Despite the time that has since passed, they have a continued friendship and have met up since the holiday.

After returning from Cornwall, Berat continued to work on his personal development and has now successfully moved into his own studio flat, but continues to keep in touch with Caritas Anchor House. He said, “Everything is good now – I have a positive future ahead of me, and am feeling much stronger. Caritas Anchor House and Freedom from Torture have shown me that I can achieve something.”

The money raised by Carolyn and Richard during their month-long route, which started on 12 April, will support Freedom from Torture to continue their vital work with people, like Berat.

To sponsor Carolyn and Richard on their bike ride, please visit their JustGiving page.

Richard said, “We have done holiday hosting through Freedom from Torture for several years, and we know from these personal encounters that FFT does tremendous work, bringing hope, health and the chance to rebuild their lives, to individual refugees and asylum seekers who have undergone torture in their own countries.”

(*The client's name has been changed to protect their identity.)

Share this page