Originally established in 1962 as the relief arm of Amnesty International, we are a separate charity and the only agency in the UK making grants specifically to prisoners of conscience – individuals who have been persecuted for their conscientiously-held beliefs, provided that they have not used or advocated violence. Our grant recipients include political prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who come from many different countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Iran, Cameroon and Eritrea.
Our aim is to raise and distribute money to help them and/or their families rehabilitate themselves during and after their ordeal. Financial grants cover general hardship relief, furniture, medicines, travel costs, family reunion costs, education, requalification and resettlement costs and medical treatment and counselling after torture.
We are a small office, with only one full-time and two part-time members of staff, and a team of dedicated volunteers.
How do we raise money?
Funding for our grants comes principally from the following three sources;
United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture - We are very fortunate to receive generous assistance each year from the UN fund.
Charitable Trusts - We enjoy support from nearly 100 different Charitable Trusts each year, such as the Unite Foundation, who contribute to the relief budget as well as general running costs.
How do we distribute grants?
Applications for relief and bursary grants are are submitted by approved referral agencies. Detailed application forms are completed by the referral agency on behalf of the applicant. The application is then considered by a sub-committee of trustees of PoC, with advice from the office. It takes three to four weeks from the moment that the application is received to the receipt of the cheque by the agency.