Liz Marshall – a remarkable woman

It was with sadness and pride that we celebrated the life of a long-term Freedom from Torture supporter on 5th January. Liz Marshall was an active member of our group, most recently also a member of our committee. She passed away in December at the age of 84.

This remarkable woman was a social justice activist all her life, being an early member of both Oxfam and Amnesty International and a strong supporter of the Palestinian people, amongst many other concerns and organisations. She was also well-known for her participation in a number of choirs and a three-choir Edinburgh concert in December held a collection in her name and raised £530.00 for Freedom from Torture – a real reminder of the esteem in which she was held by everyone who knew her.

Liz is survived by her three daughters, Claire, Hilda and Ruth. They, along with their families, arranged a beautiful service which included a traditional farewell song from Zimbabwe sung in Shona by ‘Simply Singing’, one of Liz’s choirs. The packed chapel at Warriston Crematorium indicated the breadth of her friendship circles, with friends from all areas and times of her life coming together to pay tribute to her life. She will be missed but not forgotten. We are grateful to her for her support and enthusiasm for our work to support survivors of torture in the UK.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters. You make the work of Freedom from Torture possible and, so, you make a huge difference to lives of our clients. Thanks!

cyclists and cat statue

Moira and Heidi were out checking routes for our Cycle against Torture 2019. At Linlithgow Canal Basin we posed with this statue of Dudley, who was the cat of canal-side resident and benefactor, Liz Burrows. Equally charming were the members of the Linlithgow Canal Centre to whom we chatted. One of the met his wife at Hastings, the starting point for Cycle2019, so that was a lovely connection.

As we rode towards Edinburgh the sun came out and we felt like we were racing it because it is low at this time of year and looked ready for setting from midday! An issue which became apparent as we cycled was the complete absence of public toilets. As councils have closed more and more of their toilets, it has become a real public health issue. As long as we forewarn our riders, that will be ok for July, though we expect a fair bit of ‘al fresco’ stops.

We were so lucky with the day. It wasn’t warm but the wind was behind us and it was only cold when we stopped. We look forward to many more ‘recce’ days in the months ahead.

Visiting Dungavel Detention Centre

At this time of year most of us do realise how lucky we are to have safe homes and not to live in fear of losing our freedom. Shelagh King, a Freedom from Torture supporter (and a Cycle2019 rider!) writes about her work with Scottish Detainee Visitors.

Having been a supporter of Freedom from torture for some time, I have always wanted to have a more practical involvement supporting people wanting to stay in our country. Over the past year I have volunteered with Scottish Detainee Visitors, visiting Dungavel detention centre. I expected I would meet people, like those FfT supports, but have met a much more varied group of people who have fallen foul of our draconian immigration system.

I travel to Dungavel with a small group of Volunteers from Edinburgh. We meet a group of people in the visiting area, sometimes in a large group, sometimes just with a few people. We chat about anything that comes up, and we talk about their situation, checking that they have legal representation.

 Some of those we meet are asylum seekers, and some of those have suffered torture. As we know those who have been tortured should not be detained. Many of those we meet are European nationals , some of whom have lived in the UK many years, but have  had a conviction, and at the end of their sentence, been detained in an immigration removal centre. Others are Asians or other nationals who are detained because of visa irregularities. Many of these have been living here and working or studying for many years, often with families whom they have been separated from.  Some have been detained for months, and some over a year.

One man told me he went to the immigration office to sign in on his way to collect his children from school when he was detained. Imagine the children waiting for their Dad at the school gate.

One lady who had worked as a carer for many years was deported with little warning between Christmas and New Year when it was almost impossible to contact her lawyer.

We hear so many sad stories, and it is sometimes frustrating to be unable to do much. We do however have some good chats and laughter and jokes. Sometimes we hear that someone has been released, or won an appeal.

Celebrating postivity with a tree

Group with Christmas Tree

Decorated Christmas TreeWe have a tree this year in this annual festival of Christmas trees for the first time. Nada Shawa, one of our Local Group, and her team of elves designed, created and hung decorations centred on the FfT logo. The result is a celebration of positivity in blue, white and silver. The Christmas Tree Festival is at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, George Street, EH2 2P. It is in the centre of Edinburgh so do drop in if you are nearby. You can visit, free, to see all 40 trees from now till December 24th – each day 10:00 till 18:00 and Thursdays till 21:00.

Carol Service for Missing People

Carol concert flyerWe are pleased to be able to share this information about a Carol Service being held at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Edinburgh to remember all those missing this Christmas. This will resonate with many of our supporters who know clients and ex-clients who are not able to be in touch with their loved ones, at Christmas or otherwise. We have strong connections with St Andrews and St George’s West Church and this is one more demonstration of their live commitment to issues affecting a wide range of people. You can book a seat here.

Warkworth Castle en-route through Northumberland

collage of images

Warkworth CastleThree of the Edinburgh Local Group cycled from Newcastle northwards as a recce for two of the stages of our Cycle against Torture in July 2019. The FfT North East group gave the cyclists a great send off and Simon Shailendra took some excellent photos. A wonderful two days was had and plans are in place for serious training once 2019 starts.  This pic was taken at Warkworth Castle, which is not about to fall down!

You can be part of this event in many ways – you can ride a bit of the way with us, you can arrange activities where we pass through and/or you can donate to our JustGiving page, or become a Team Member on that Team.  We can be contacted on cyclefft2019@gmail.com 

Cushions and poetry

Cushions

Call Out for Cushions with poetry! Who’s up for customising a cushion for our Spoken Word event on 9th Feb so that people who are standing have a soft spot to plonk down on … all shapes , styles and sizes welcome , but ALL to be customised with some lines from a POEM you LOVE , sewn , scribbled , painted or printed onto a patch on the cushion (Don’t tell me you DON’T have an extra cushion or two kicking around )

At the end of the night , we’ll sell them to raise funds for Freedom from Torture!

If you can’t come on the night , your cushion can support someone else’s bahoochie. Email us on fftedinburgh@outlook.com if you fancy being part of this adventure.

Are you planning to ride a stage or more?

screenshot of JustGiving page

If you are planning to ride with us, why not set up your fundraising page now as a ‘team member’ and ask family and friends to sponsor your good intentions instead of socks, lovely though it is to have nice, new socks at Christmas-time?

Just click this link and it should be very easy – email us on cyclefft2019@gmail.com if you run into any problems.

Watch this space for a report from Moira, Heidi and Shelagh’s recce days on 17th and 18th November – brrr.

Recce-ing of routes is underway

country road in autumn

Cyclist near stone bridgeCarolyn and Richard were lucky to get beautiful weather for most of their recce ride (for Cycle against Torture 2019) along the valley of the Tweed, from Melrose to Biggar, on Sunday 14 and Monday 15 October. The tree colours were at their best, the river was blue in the sunshine, and cheeks were a rosy autumnal hue also at times from tackling the rolling countryside! But on the whole this is a relatively flat and certainly very scenic stretch, almost all on quiet little roads, and has the added bonus of three lovely Borders towns: Melrose, then Peebles, then Biggar, each well stocked with cafes! Your recce riders concluded it will be one of the most lovely sections of the whole ride. Tweedbank station near Galashiels is near the start with connections to Edinburgh. 

We’ll be putting up general descriptions of each stage on this site with more detailed route information when the ride leaders have decided on the exact routing.

Spoken Word event now available for booking

Man running against a hopscotch wall
John Hegley

We are delighted to confirm that ‘From Bad to Verse‘ with John Hegley and Friends is now open for booking on Eventbrite. Sat 9th Feb 2019 – 7.30 pm till late.

This will be a magical night of poetry , music, storytelling and improv with top performance poet, comedian and songwriter JOHN HEGLEY and friends. Celebrating the transformative power of words, this event includes live music from R&B band Combo Combo and DJ set with Lizi Rascal .

Tickets are £15.00 (plus booking fee) and available through the Eventbrite page There is seating for 40 people on a first-come-first-served basis, with lots of standing room – so book early and get there in good time. There will be raffle so come ready for that excitement too. Fund-raising for the important work of Freedom from Torture.

We now have a short url for the booking page – https://tinyurl.com/Hegley2019