Freedom from Torture

Freedom from Torture contracted with BIHR to embed a human rights approach across its 5 UK centres. The 15-month consultancy focused on service user involvement, the 5 stage process is detailed below.

1. An initial project report was provided to FFT which set out;

  • The human rights legal framework in the UK
  • Methodologies for embedding a human rights based approach–including the FAIR and PANEL models
  • Examples of best practice from across the UK. These were gathered through external scoping and included learning from a number of diverse, UK organisations who have put human rights at the forefront of policy and practice in service user involvement.

2. In depth consultation with over 150 service users and staff to gather their views on how Freedom from Torture can improve on its commitments as a human rights based organisation. These sessions were run using the PANEL human rights approach; participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and the law. Stakeholders were asked to reflect on each of these human rights principles and identify Freedom from Torture’s successes, challenges and opportunities under each heading. BIHR facilitators captured this information which was submitted to Freedom from Torture as a report.

3. Capacity building sessions with over 80 Freedom from Torture service users in each of their 5 UK centres. These sessions offered service users an introduction to UK Human Rights Law empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to challenge decisions which affect their rights. Capacity building sessions delivered to over 60 staff members and 18 interpreters supporting them to understand their legal duties under the Human Rights Act and apply this knowledge to a real organisation specific scenario.

4. Planning and designing future policy and practice. Five learning events, bringing over 80 staff and service users from across the organisation together to reflect on the learning so far and use this evidence to plan and design future policy, practice and procedures using a human rights approach. These sessions were facilitated by BIHR expert trainers to support groups to plan using a human rights legal framework.

5. BIHR provided FFT with expert recommendations for further embedding a human rights based approach within the organisation. For Freedom from Torture, we created a traffic light system using the PANEL human rights approach.

The traffic light; 

-Sets out indicators for each human rights principle that would give a service a red, amber or green rating. 

-Provided a baseline rating for FFT based on our work with service users and staff over 15 months. 

-Report on the recommendations made by service users and staff on how FFT could improve it's rating in each area.

-Offer our own expert advice on next steps for FFT in moving closer to a human rights based approach. 


“Today we have learned about our rights in the UK, it has been very helpful for me.” Service user

“This is the first time in my role as a Fundraiser that I have met and planned with service users. It’s been incredibly helpful.”  Fundraising Officer

“This process has allowed us to stop and reflect. We want to ensure we are a human rights based organisation but sometimes it gets lost in daily practice. We must continue this process after BIHR leave.” Staff member

“This project has helped us towards a culture of human rights which is bought into by everyone working in the organisation regardless of job title. We will all work from a rights based approach and not out own individual values.” Staff member