The role of a trauma-sensitive football group in the recovery of survivors of torture
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Horn, R., Ewart-Biggs, R., Hudson, F., Berilgen, S., Ironside, J., & Prodromou, A. (2019) The role of a trauma-sensitive football group in the recovery of survivors of torture. Torture journal: Journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture, 29(1), 97-109.
Introduction: Whilst there is some preliminary evidence for the benefits of sports-related interventions for survivors of torture, there remains a need to understand better how sport and exercise can contribute to the rehabilitation of torture survivors. Specifically, this paper aims to: 1) explore the ways in which a football group contributed to the wellbeing of participants; and 2) suggest characteristics of the football group which could potentially contribute to its effectiveness. Method: We undertook an exploratory mixed methods study with participants and trainers of a joint programme delivered by Arsenal Football Club (London) and Freedom from Torture. We conducted individual and group discussions plus participatory ranking activities which led to the development of an initial programme model. This model was subsequently further developed through a variety of data collection methods . Results: Six potential outcomes of involvement in the football group were identified, some of which were inter-related: relationships; sense of belonging; hope for the future; emotion management; enjoyment; and improved physical health. In addition, the process highlighted factors contributing to the effectiveness of the football group: sense of safety; therapeutic aims; similar participants; partnership approach; staff characteristics; other opportunities; consistency. Conclusions: Our exploratory study suggests potential benefits from the programme that would require validation through a case-control study plus follow-up of participants. Nevertheless, we offer a model of understanding and some recommendations that can be a starting point for similar programmes and academic research in the area.