“I have a lot of pain on the body and I am not sleeping well, I have really bad dreams,” says Tavish*. “I think a lot, reliving things.”

Tavish and his family suffered severely during the Sri Lankan civil war. The family lost their land and property and one of Tavish’s brothers was killed. Tavish himself was arrested and tortured because of his suspected involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the group that was at war with the government.

Tavish was tortured again by the Sri Lankan authorities in 2015 and only released after his father paid a bribe. He was then brought by a smuggler to the UK, where he applied for asylum and was moved to Birmingham. He contacted his brother in London, his only relative in the UK, who collected him from Birmingham and supports him.

Tavish was in urgent need of medical help, as the torture he had suffered took a heavy toll on his physical and mental health. His lower back bears the scars of being beaten with a large stick. Yet his local GP surgery in London would not register him, saying that he did not have the correct proof of address documents.

When Tavish came to Doctors of the World’s clinic in London in late 2015, volunteers identified his PTSD and helped him to register with a GP. Doctors of the World also referred Tavish to Freedom from Torture, an organisation that provides him with regular counselling.

Tavish’s asylum claim has been accepted by the Home Office, after his solicitor lodged an appeal when his first claim was rejected.

*Not his real name.

Photo by Jenny Lewis.