One of the great things about attending university is that it gives you the opportunity to volunteer with a number of great charities. One of these charities, Freedom from Torture, inspired Kaleem Luthra to start a society dedicated to raising awareness of the work done by the charity. The Gryphon got to sit down and talk to Kaleem, President of the society, to learn more about the new society.
Why was the society created?
I got the idea to set up the society during the summer of 2015. I heard that the charity wanted to expand to more student campuses across the country, and I had heard about a conference that they had had earlier that year at Birmingham University. I was very interested in the charity, and thought why not? Why not do that at Leeds?
What do you do in the society on a regular basis?
We do a whole host of different things. We host informative talks; and run fundraising activities so we put on different events geared towards that such as music nights and topical film screenings. We also like to collaborate with other like-minded societies on similar campaigns when we can. We’re generally here to raise awareness on the charity, introduce it to people who may have not heard of it before, and just assist the charity in any way that we can.
What’s the greatest misconception people have of survivors of torture?
Probably, that they’re downtrodden or somehow broken individuals. In my experience of meeting torture survivors and listening to their talks, the truth has been the complete opposite. Almost all the people that Freedom from Torture work with are asylum seekers and refugees. It’s the general misconceptions of refugees and asylum seekers that often comes up when discussing torture survivors in the UK.
What are the aims of the society?
Primarily to raise awareness of what Freedom from Torture do as a charity and to contribute to fundraising. Our campaigning relates to both the areas that Freedom of Torture deal with directly and other related areas, such as human rights-focused campaigns. We want to contribute to getting decision makers at different levels of government talking about the treatment of torture survivors. The society is also a sociable thing to get involved in. I’ve made a lot of new friends through the society.
What would you like to tell people to convince them to join your society?
It’s a great cause. As well as contributing you also take a massive amount out of being involved in the society. We’ve really enjoyed everything we’ve done so far. It’s a chance to learn a bit more about a small and niche charity that not many people know about in the UK, but one that is growing fast. If you’re interested in human rights or medical and psychological rehabilitation, then you should join. Or if you’re interested in Amnesty International and STAR (Student Action For Refugees), we should be of interest to you too.
There is a lot of meaningful work that this society does, and if you’re even the slightest bit interested in the points mentioned in the interview, then join now! Or if you’re looking to meet great people with a desire to do meaningful charity work, then make sure to become a member. You can get more information on the society on their page on the Union website (Freedom From Torture), or by checking out their Facebook page (Leeds Freedom from Torture Student Group).
(Image courtesy of Developing Democracies)