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Feedback : Befriender Training Day 27th June 2009, London.

A very inspiring and motivating training – thank you !


Photo by Andy Lee : Richard Oliver at the 27th June 2009 Training Day

Latest version of Medical Justice Befriender Training Manual (8Mb)

Agenda topics included ;

Legal process overview
- Alex Goodman, barrister and Hani Zubeidi, immigration solicitor         
Deterioration of health
- Dr Indrajit Ghosh, HIV specialist and Dr Frank Arnold, torture scars specialist         
Torture Survivors  
- Dr Frank Arnold, torture scars specialist       
Pregnancy
- Dr Miriam Beeks, GP       
Gender-based Persecution and Trafficking
- Juliane Heider, SOAS Detainee Support Group      
Mental Health        
- Dr Ben Robinson, neuroscientist & PTSD researcher
HIV           
- Dr Indrajit Ghosh, HIV specialist    
Children in detention      
- Dr Nick Lessof, consultant paediatrician   
Assaults   
- Emma Ginn, Medical Justice co-ordinator
Rule 35      
- Dr Frank Arnold, torture scars specialist   
Medical Justice referrals      
- Emma Ginn, Medical Justice co-ordinator
Accessing support
- Gill Butler, retired mental health nurse  
Anti burn-out
- Puck de Raadt, psychologist

Click here for further info on agenda topics


Photo by Andy Lee : 46 participants at the 27th June 2009 Training Day

Groups booked for the training day included ;
1.    Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST)
2.    Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
3.    Federation of Iraqi Refugees
4.    St. Albans Yarl's Wood Casework Support Group
5.    Kent Refugee Help
6.    Brighton Voices In Exile
7.    Haslar Visitors Group
8.    Nottingham Refuge Forum
9.    Children's Society
10.  SOAS Detainee Support Group
11.  London Detainee Support Group
12.  Liverpool University
13.  Wandsworth Social Services
14.  For A Better World
15.  Yarl’s Wood Befrienders

Attendees who were not part of visitors’ groups ;
•    A doctor from Hillingdon hospital who sees detainees brought in from Harmondsworth / Colnbrook
•    Two medical students undertaking an elective on Asylum healthcare in Liverpool
•    A social worker
•    A photographer and a filmmaker who want to make a film about Yarl’s Wood

Detention Centres covered by visitors’ groups who participated ;
1.    Campsfield
2.    Yarl’s Wood
3.    Harmondsworth
4.    Colnbrook
5.    Dover
6.    Tinsley House
7.    Brook House
8.    Haslar

Attendees travelled in from ; Liverpool, Portsmouth, Brighton, Nottingham, Bedford, London, Whitstable, Luton, and Newcastle.


Photo by Andy Lee : participants exchange experiences at the 27th June 2009 Training Day

Feedback included ;

“Best bit ?” – responses included ;

“Alex Goodman, clear, well presented.  Ben Robinson – also clear and an exercise which engaged and left food for thought.  Both of these two were good at interaction with audience”

“I thought talks on mental health and by Frank Arnold were brilliant”

“Mental Health stuff on PTSD.  Talking about what it means to be  befrienders – how valuable it is – how you can get support.  I think we often feel less valuable than the “professionals” – lawyers and doctors”

“Sharing stories with professionals and others”

“Brilliant, lots of worthy info especially about mental health !  Great manual !”

“Range of topics covered, a longer day would have been fine with me !”


“Worst bit ?” – responses included ;

“Too short”

“Not really anything bad, just got a tired – rather a lot of information but all really useful.”

“I’d have enjoyed hearing the lecture about gender.  It was too short and I think it is a significant part.”

“Over-running – too much to cover”

“Lack of time.”


“Questions you would liked to have been covered” – responses included ;

“Nothing apart from finding out what it means to gain asylum – do people gain full rights as UK citizens ?”

“Perhaps more on the legal rights of detainees e.g. whether they have the right to refuse a strip search”

“How to deal with the question of not having access to vital documents – i.e. evidence from Yarl’s Wood healthcentre and the Home Office which would help in the fight to get justice”

“How to put theories into useful practice – e.g. where to take possible diagnoses of PTSD to what end ?”

“Assessment / evidence of events affecting children in detention, assessing kids regularly while in detention.”

“Confidentiality.”


“Suggestions for our next training day” – responses included ;

“Concentrate on 2 or 3 topics and expand”

“Less in depth information naming the specific drugs people take and concentrate on the issue.  Freedom of Information.  Process and entitlement to records”.

“Invite the Home Office to come to a training day – sit in the audience and hear about the reality of life of rejected asylum seekers – and how the system works – and the effect of the government ‘target’”

“Make it a bit longer”

“A bit longer maybe ?”


Photo by Andy Lee : Dr Ben Robinson gives a talk on PTSD

“Do you feel more sure about what you are doing in terms of supporting detainees ?”

12 out of 14 participants who responded said Yes.

One said ; “Yes/No – a lot so far has been instinctual and it turns out good practice.  Validation / confirmation of practice has been good.” One said : “Yes, more in the psychological sphere.  However, I don’t feel confident about supporting detainees in the legal aspect.”

 “Do you feel you will be able to give better support to detainees ?”

14 out of 14 respondents said “Yes”.

“Do you think you will be able to visit more detainees than before ?”

8 out of 13 respondednts said Yes.

Two said No. Other responses were ; “Same”, “I am visiting enough already” and “If time allows”.

“Do you feel more supported than before ?”

10 out of 13 respndents said Yes.

One said No. One said “the same” and one said “No – I already have very good support with the London Detainee Support Group”.

“Do you think you will feel less burned-out than before ?”

3 out of 9 respondednts said Yes.  

2 said they were not sure, one said maybe, one said they didn’t know, one said the topic was not covered, and one said “the same”.

“Do you feel you understand the asylum determination process and needs and rights of detainees better than before ?”

8 out of 14 respondednts said Yes.

3 said a bit. 2 said not much.  One said No.

“Do you feel a wider sense of solidarity with others visiting detainees than before ?”

12 out of 12 respondents said Yes.

“Any comments you would like to make ?” – responses included ;

“A very inspiring and motivating training – thank you !”

“Thank you for an excellent and informative day.  Lunch was such a bonus !”

“I would like to be a member”

"It was a very helpful and well organised day.”

“An excellent and informative day, it was great, thanks !”

“It is good that individual aspects of work with asylum seekers / detainees are explored in the Medical Justice meetings taking place every two months.”


Photo by Andy Lee : Befriender Training Day 27th June 2009

Medical Justice Befriender Training and Supervision programme

The day was part of the Medical Justice Befriender Training and Supervision programme which aims to help befrienders offer effective support to vulnerable women detainees and reduce befriender burn-out by giving guidance and support.

The Befriender Training and Supervision programme is a three year project, kindly funded by Comic Relief to Yarl’s Wood Befrienders.  The programme is initially focused on Yarl's Wood Befrienders but is being opened up to other befrienders in other groups visiting women detainees. There will be two Training Days and two Supervision Days a year for each of the three years. In addition, there will be on-going Supervision by means of email and phone access to Medical Justice individuals, and on-line “tool kits” on the Medical Justice website.

Feedback from the first Training Day in 13th September 2008
33 befrienders participated in the Training Day held in Bedford.  You can see the feedback here .

Training Manual
Through this programme, Medical Justice as produced the Medical Justice Befriender Training Manual which can be down loaded here (8Mb).

The next Supervision Day

Date : Saturday 19th September 2009 from 10.30am to 4.30pm
Venue : Harrow Road Health Centre, 209 Harrow Road, London, W2 5EH.
Costs : no cost.
Asylum seekers’ travel expenses : to be reimbursed on provision of a receipt.
To book a place : email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Agenda and further details