Find out more about our research and expertise in working with survivors of extreme human cruelty.

Flagship Publications

The Helen Bamber Foundation, in collaboration with Freedom From Torture, has written recommendations on the safeguarding and protection measures required to undertake remote casework and/or hearings.

These recommendations have been put forward to ensure that the right to a fair trial and standards of fairness are maintained for survivors of trafficking and torture during the coronavirus public health crisis.

Read the recommendations here.

The Helen Bamber Foundation has submitted a short report to the UK Home Office recommending that urgent action is taken to protect and safeguard survivors of Modern Slavery as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The report is widely supported by NGOs, academics and legal representatives across the UK with 56 co-signatories.

There is no foreseeable end to the current pandemic crisis. To ensure the ongoing protection, safety and health of survivors of modern slavery during the Covid-19 public health crisis and through the gradual emergence from it, we are calling for a coherent Government strategy to be published together with the creation of a ‘Modern Slavery Covid-Crisis Committee’ comprising clinical and anti-trafficking experts who can provide guidance on implementation of the strategy and recommended actions for urgent procedural measures.

Click here to access the full report

The Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards were launched in the House of Lords by Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The Helen Bamber Foundation’s Counter Trafficking, Lead Rachel Witkin, and Foundation’s clinical team authored 1.2 The Trauma-Informed Code of Conduct for All Professionals Working with Survivors of Trafficking and Slavery.

The Standards aim to provide a blueprint for UK-wide service providers across all professions on how to provide high quality care to survivors of trafficking and modern slavery.

The Foundation’s ultimate goal for the Standards is to promote an integrated, holistic and empowering approach that places the needs of survivors at the centre of the process of sustained recovery, far beyond the current 45 day support offered during the ‘reflection period’.

Click here to access this publication.

The Trauma Informed Code of Conduct will act as a professional guide for best-practice when working with survivors, and is written by our Head of Counter-Trafficking Rachel Witkin and Katy Robjant, a consultant clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of PTSD and other related disorders in asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking.

Click here to view publication. 


This Paper, the first of its kind, was developed in partnership with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights.

The OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) commissioned the report after a speech Helen Bamber made for them, in which she compared human trafficking to torture.

In HBF’s long-term experience of working with survivors, both the injuries and trauma suffered in trafficking cases are comparable with that of survivors of torture.

In this paper, this is explained in a comprehensive, accessible way to enable other professionals to take it forward in their own area of work.

The OSCE’s Special Representative, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro gave the keynote address. She was joined by two guest speakers from the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute.

Click here to access this publication.


Asylum seekers who are granted leave to remain in the UK are required to make a rapid transition to housing and welfare benefits. These challenges can significantly affect the mental health of new refugees, but this has not yet been quantified.

The Helen Bamber Foundation (HBF) has conducted the first piece of research to investigate the impact of the transition period on new refugees’ mental health. The study took place over a 12 month period and involved 30 participants, all of whom were clients at HBF and who had recently been granted leave to remain in the UK.

This study highlights how complex the impact of gaining status can be for new refugees on their mental health, with both positive and negative aspects involved. The results of this study represent how potentially beneficial and important the type of support provided by HBF can be for new refugees and their mental health during the transition period.

Click here to read a brief summary of the research.

Click here to read the full article.

Asylum seekers are required to narrate past experiences to the UK Home Office, doctors, lawyers and psychologists as part of their claims for international protection. The Home Office often cites perceived inconsistencies in asylum interviews as grounds for refusal of their claims. A number of processes affect asylum seekers’ abilities to narrate past experiences fully to the professionals interviewing them.

This work identifies a number of processes that make disclosure of personal information difficult for asylum seekers. This includes lack of trust towards professionals conducting interview, unclear ideas around pertinence of information for interviewers, feelings of fear, shame and guilt related to suspicions around collusions between UK and their country-of-origin's authorities, sexual trauma and, occasionally, their own involvement or collusion in crimes against others.

Click here to read a brief summary of the research.

Click here to read the full article.

This study explores how vulnerable refugees’ experiences in the first year after being granted leave to remain in the UK impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with refugee survivors of extreme cruelty. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis with a narrative influence. Reported challenges included requirements to organize housing, finances and welfare benefits rapidly. Most respondents reported low mood, worry, exacerbated PTSD symptoms, physical ailments and isolation, but valued stable housing, meaningful activities, emotional support and service provider sensitivity in managing this transition. Policy and service recommendations are made, to assist integration and improve wellbeing.

Click here to read the full article.

This article has come out of a partnership between King's College London and the Helen Bamber Foundation, under the auspices of King's Artists, which supports collaborations between artists and researchers across disciplines at King's College London to embrace creativity and develop new thinking and creative outputs.

The project, which has culminated in the major exhibition Sara Shamma: Modern Slavery intends to build on the identify new research questions, and raise awareness of the impacts of modern slavery to reduce the risk and impact of violence against women and support survivors.

Click here to read the full article.

Listen to a podcast about the project, featuring our head of Counter-Trafficking and Publications, Rachel Witkin.

Our Medical Director, Prof. Cornelius Katona has contributed to this paper on Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may be underrecognized in people with intellectual disabilities (PWID).

This review aims to identify PTSD screening tools for PWID and estimate the prevalence of PTSD within this population.

Read the paper here.

A concise and up to date text on the mental health of older people, this second edition is fully updated to reflect changes in technology, competency-based training, guidelines, law and treatments.

This book is edited by Rob Butler alongside Cornelius Katona, who also contributed a chapter focusing on Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Find out more here.

Using current societal dilemmas, this book explores how social factors and social identity influence our health and recovery from illness.

Helen Bamber Foundation's Professor Katona and Dr Brady contributed Chapter 18 Complex Trauma and Complex Responses to Trauma in the Asylum Context.

Find out more here.

In light of the considerable body of recent research, this review aims to update and expand on a 2009 systematic review on the mental health consequences of detention on adult, adolescent and child immigration detainees, which found (on the basis on 9 studies) that there was consistent evidence that immigration detention had adverse effects on mental health.

Download here.

This article, with HBF's Dr Brady as a contributing author, describes a clinical protocol for supporting those presenting with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociative symptoms, particularly dissociative flashbacks, based on a cross-culturally applicable model.

Read the paper here.

Trauma due to deliberate harm by others is known to increase the likelihood of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is the first study investigating basic and dynamic trust in ‘interpersonal’ PTSD.

Click here to access this publication.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that involves the forced movement of people internally within countries, or externally across borders. Trafficking can be for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to, forced labour, sexual exploitation, or domestic servitude.

Click here to access this publication.

Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Female Victims of Trafficking Using Narrative Exposure Therapy: A Retrospective Audit by Dr Katy Robjant, Jackie Roberts, Prof Cornelius Katona demonstrates that Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) is a feasible treatment for PTSD in women who have experienced human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Click here to access this publication.


In September 2020 the Home Office established refugee camps in Ministry of Defence sites, which were former military barracks. Sites have opened in Penally in Pembrokeshire, Wales and Napier in Kent, England. People were moved onto the sites before healthcare systems and facilities were fully in place.

HBF has very serious concerns about the Home Office’s shift away from local community dispersal, which promotes recovery and integration and reduces difference and discrimination. The reported attempted suicide by a person seeking asylum who was detained in Napier barracks is evidence of the harm and risk this approach brings.

We have summarised our position in this briefing for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Immigration Detention.

Click here to read the briefing.

The Helen Bamber Foundation's Medical and Research Director, Prof Cornelius Katona, alongside Dr Juliet Cohen (Freedom From Torture) and Prof Dinesh Bhugra wrote to Nadine Dorries, Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health urging her to make changes to the national data on suicides, to include ethnicity.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK does not hold information on suicide statistics by ethnicity or asylum status. Inquests into suicides do not record ethnicity or whether the person is an asylum seeker because there is no requirement for them to do so.

Available data show that ethnic minority groups have reduced access to mental health services, delays in help seeking, increased rates of compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act, and poorer mental health outcomes. Factors such as racism, community stigma, and poorer service provision in areas of deprivation contribute to this.

In October 2019, the Republic of Ireland began recording the ethnicity of people who died by suicide, specifically to improve monitoring of the rate of suicide in vulnerable groups such as the Traveller community. The UK government should make this important change at the earliest possible opportunity.

Click here to read the letter.

Click here to read the BMJ Editorial.

A key component of our holistic model of specialist care, is legal protection. In practical terms this means offering legal support to a client in collaboration with their lawyer. The majority of HBF clients have legal representation funded by legal aid.

We believe access to justice should be a human right that is guaranteed.

Read our submission to the UK Parliament on the Future of Legal Aid to find out more about our recommendations to the Government for a more just system.

Click here to read our submission.

This is our response to the Independent Review of Administrative Law's call for evidence on the question: “Does judicial review strike the right balance between enabling citizens to challenge the lawfulness of government action and allowing the executive and local authorities to carry on the business of government?”

Click here to read our submission.

This submission is provided for the Home Office's upcoming review of the level of weekly cash allowances provided to asylum seekers, refused asylum seekers and their dependents, as provided under Section 95 and Section 4 respectively. It provides information on the most pressing issues that have been identified by HBF in relation to our clients who are recipients of asylum support.

Click here to read our submission.

We have extensive experienec in assisting our clients to apply for Universal Credit, as the vast majority of our clients who are granted leave to remain are required to apply for it in order to have any kind of basic income. The people we work with are rarely able to work at the point they receive refugee status and so need to apply for UC to have income and usually simultaneously submit medical certificates in order to be assessed for their capability for work.

In response to the Committee's call for evidence on the five-week wait for a first payment of Universal Credit, we have outlined our response below, focusing specifically on UC claimants who have recently been granted leave to remain having sought asylum in the UK.

Click here to read our submission.

This submission addresses the issue of "institutional asylum accommodation focusing primarily on the experiences of our clients in initial/emergency Home Office accommodation, but also on those already living in dispersal accommodation.

Click here to read our submission.

The majority of our clients are disabled due to the substantial and long-term adverse effect caused to them by their mental health, an often physical health issues. In response to the committee's call for evidence on Covid-19 and the impact on people with protected characteristics, we have outlined our response focusing specifically on the questions: "How have people been affected by the illness?" and "Have there been specific impacts on people due to them having a protected characteristic?"

Click here to read our submission.

Asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to food poverty because of the extremely limited amount of financial support they receive from the Government. We have outlined our response to the EFRA Select Committee's call for evidence on Covid-19 and food supply, focusing specifically on the question: "Are the government and food industry doing enough to support people to access sufficient healthy food and are any groups not having their needs met?

Click here to read our submission.

The Helen Bamber Foundation responded to the Chief Inspector's call for evidence in relation to the Home Secretary's commisson to report annually on the Home Office's working of the Adults at Risk policy. This submission focuses on a sample of 25 individuals who were referred to the Helen Bamber Foundation whilst in detention and who were provided with a Letter of Concern during 2018. All 25 individuals were in detention at various points during 2018 and were considered under the Adults at Risk policy and accepted as being Adults at Risk.

Click here to read our submission.

Many from the Windrush generation were accused of telling lies, even as they tried to tell the truth, with devastating consequences. When calling for lessons to be learned, you insisted that this inhumane approach must “never happen again to any group of people”.

We agree. But as charities, community organisations and faith groups we know that other groups are already mistreated in this way by the Home Office, with life-shattering consequences.

Click here to access this publication.

The Helen Bamber Foundation has become increasingly concerned regarding the impact on our most vulnerable clients of ‘The National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017’, particularly the extension of charging into community services and the requirement for relevant bodies to charge upfront for treatment that is not urgent or immediately necessary.

Click here to access this publication.

This submission provides information on the most pressing issues that have been identified by the Helen Bamber Foundation in relation to our clients who are applying for or receiving Universal Credit (UC). It makes use of anonymous case extracts from clinical notes, as well as correspondence between the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Click here to access this publication.

The focus of this submission is the effect of the Adults at Risk Policy on the client base of the Helen Bamber Foundation (HBF). We collated data from a sample of referrals sent to us for immigration detainees during the period September 2016 and June 2017. This provides an illustration for our concerns. Upon analysing data collected during the ten-month period, the findings reveal that detention, often for lengthy periods, is still being maintained by the Home Office in the cases of vulnerable adults who qualify under the Adults at Risk Policy.

Click here to access this publication.

Many of the Helen Bamber Foundation’s clients were trafficked as children and have continuous access to HBF’s Counter-Trafficking Programme, which ensures they are in contact with, and safeguarded by, an independent advocate to ensure their protection and sustained recovery before, during and after the NRM process. Our clients are predominantly non-EEA nationals who may be undergoing NRM and asylum procedures, although that is not our criteria for referral.

Click here to access this publication.

The Helen Bamber Foundation is seriously concerned that members of its client group are being inappropriately held in immigration detention, despite the findings of the Shaw Review into the Welfare in Detention of Vulnerable Persons, and the Home Office’s stated intention of its policy on Adults at Risk In Immigration Detention to reduce the number of vulnerable people detained and the duration of detention before removal.

Click here to access this publication.

The Helen Bamber Foundation submitted a briefing paper to the 14 March parliamentary debate on detention of vulnerable people, voicing clinical concerns about the negative impact of immigration detention on the mental health of vulnerable people.

Click here to access this publication.

A briefing paper produced by the Helen Bamber Foundation and King’s College London after they spoke to the All-Party Parliamentary Group in the House of Lords on Modern Slavery in Jan 2017. It provides an explanation of the mental health difficulties which victims of human trafficking suffer, and the impact this can have on their ability to recall their experiences and provide a consistent account of events when giving testimony.

Click here to access this publication.

The Foundation’s clinical team gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention. Professor Cornelius Katona, the Foundation’s Medical Director and our Head of Therapies, Dr Katy Robjant, gave evidence to demonstrate that it is not possible to adequately treat mental illness in a detention setting. Their research highlights the significant mental health impact of immigration detention on vulnerable people. We welcomed the key recommendations and findings in the resulting report, which praised the contributions from the Helen Bamber Foundation as some of the ‘striking statistics statements made during the witness session’ and agree that those suffering from mental illness, including victims of torture, trafficking and other human rights violations should never be detained for immigration purposes.

Click here to access this publication.

Joint Publications

Helen Bamber Foundation Clinical Psychologist, Dr Kemi Komolafe, contributed to this IAPT BAME Service User Positive Practice Guide. An important resource for all those working in mental health, with useful recommendations for working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Click here to read the full report.

The healthcare of those in detention who have been tortured or subject to inhuman or degrading treatment has long been the subject of international interest. The Mandela rules (the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners), as well as guidance from the UN Istanbul Protocol, the World Medical Association and the Council of Europe, lay out the basic principles that should be applied. The Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (FFLM) is the government recognized standard setting institution for healthcare in police detention in the UK. In 2016 the FFLM, seeking to build on these principles, set up a working group to draft the first set of detailed quality standards for this area of healthcare. This document is the result. It addresses the specific vulnerabilities of victims of torture in detention and sets out for the healthcare professional not only what should be done, but why, how, and how we can know that it has been done.

Click here to read the standards

This document has been informed by the following agencies who work with survivors of trafficking during and after the NRM process or who operate at a policy level. These Co- authors are: The Helen Bamber Foundation, the Human Trafficking Foundation, The Sophie Hayes Foundation, The Jericho Foundation, Black Country Women’s Aid, The Adavu Project, Hestia, Hope for Justice, Unseen, The Anti- Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), Snowdrop Project, Housing for Women and Amari Project-Solace Women’s Aid. Click here to access this publication.

The report, Addressing the Mental Health Needs in Survivors of Modern Slavery, found that survivors of forced labour, sex trafficking, and other forms of slavery frequently suffer from severe mental health problems including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but there has been very limited research on which treatments are effective. The study was commissioned by the Freedom Fund and conducted by the Helen Bamber Foundation.

Click here to access this publication.

Fourth report in the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) series analyses the UK’s response to trafficking four years on from the Council Of Europe anti-trafficking convention coming into force. Whilst there has been a number of improvement in the government’s response to trafficking through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the system fails to systematically identify, assist and protect victims of trafficking. The report highlights major problems of the UK’s system, especially looking at victims of trafficking through context of their immigration status, causing the decision making to be unfair and discriminatory.

Click here to access this publication.

The report analyses anti-slavery legislation across the UK and highlights significant differences in a number of key areas across the three jurisdictions. In particular the research emphasises how the Modern Slavery Act falls behind the legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland on victim protection measures. It also points out that there is no monitoring framework in place to oversee the implementation of all three Acts across the UK, including data collection and analysis. As with all of the Group’s reports, the research makes recommendations as to improvements in the UK’s anti-trafficking policy and practice.

Click here to access this publication.

Other Resources

It is our view that our clients are responding in the same range of ways as the UK population as a whole. Their responses differ according to their situation and their level of understanding.

Please read our report here.

This guide supports General Practitioners to understand and recognise indicators that a patient may be at risk of, or being subjected to, Modern Slavery/Human Trafficking.

Dr Silvana Unigwe and Dr Jane Hunt authored this 'Quick Guide to Modern Slavery/Human Traffickig' for the Royal College of General Practitioners to aid in the identification of survivors in a primary care setting.

Read the guide here.