Calls for guaranteed mental health and financial support come on anniversary of Westminster (5th) and Brussels (6th) terror attacks - Survivors Against Terror (SAT) – a group set up by people injured or bereaved by terrorism – is today calling for a new Survivors’ Charter as it publishes the first comparative analysis of the support available to victims of terror around the world.

The report is published on the fifth anniversary of the Westminster Bridge and the sixth anniversary of the Brussels Metro terror attacks.

The comparative report sets out how many countries are doing better than the UK in key areas of survivor support and how too many survivors are left struggling with their mental health or financial problems without the support they deserve.

SAT are recommending a new Survivors’ Charter built around eight central guarantees, which would put the UK at the cutting edge of survivor support. Those legal guarantees would include rapid access to mental health support, immediate financial assistance, and a new dedicated Support Hub to help survivors of attacks, connecting them to services and ensuring the commitments of the charter are upheld.

Travis Frain, one of the report’s authors and a survivor of the Westminster Bridge attack said;

“Five years ago today I was hit by the terrorist’s car on Westminster Bridge and ended up in hospital for a week and unable to walk unadied for six months. Before that day, I had assumed that survivors of attacks like these were well looked after. What I found - and what this report reinforces - is that there are simply too many people falling through the gaps.”

In 2019 the Conservative party committed to consult on a new Survivors’ Charter, following campaigning by survivors of attacks and a landmark Council of Europe report which branded UK support “unsatisfactory”.

The report’s authors include co-founders of SAT, Travis D. Frain, survivor of the Westminster Bridge Attack and Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox MP, and builds on a landmark 2018 study surveying nearly 300 survivors, which detailed the current gaps in support and their collective priorities - from compensation to mental health support.

Brendan Cox, one of the co-founders of Survivors Against Terror said;

“Survivors of terror attacks shouldn’t be left langusihing on waiting lists for the most basic mental health support or having to turn to charities for help to make ends meet. But in too many cases that is what is happening. What survivors need is a set of legal guarantees that ensures people whose lives have been devastated get the support and care they deserve. The government has promised to consult on a survivors’ charter. It can’t happen soon enough.”

The Survivors’ Charter: Eight Guarantees

  • Guaranteed proactive personal support – led by the creation of a permanent Survivors Support Hub
  • Guaranteed access to rapid psychological triage and services – with maximum 6-week wait times from request to treatment
  • Guaranteed immediate financial assistance –expedited financial relief, allowing survivors to focus on recovery
  • Guaranteed State Compensation Fund –a fund targeted exclusively at supporting victims of terror, ending today’s patchwork system
  • Guaranteed legal support –ensuring all survivors have the ability to give evidence to inquests and inquiries
  • Guaranteed Recognition -an addition to the system of Queen’s honours that would recognise the sacrifice of those injured or bereaved
  • Guaranteed Memorialisation -a National Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Survivors of Terrorism, and consultation on a permanent physical monument
  • Guaranteed comprehensive long-term support –helping those with long-term needs, whenever they arise - for example in covering the cost of orthopaedic prosthetics.

Jo Dover, an international expert in terrorism legislation who contributed to the report said:

“This report shows why the UK needs both a new charter and a new approach to looking after survivors. Countries like France and Belgium view survivors of terror attacks in a similar way to how they view injured veterans - where the state has a particular responsibility to look after them. In the UK we treat them in the same way as someone who had been in a road accident. It’s time for a change of approach - and implementing a Survivors’ Charter would be the best way to signify that.”

General The Lord Dannatt, Chair of the National Emergencies Trust, said:

‘Acts of terror have profound effects on survivors, creating immediate challenges, such as having to take time away from work or education due to serious injury, as well as long-term mental health impacts. Charity appeals that can quickly gift funds to survivors have made a huge difference to people after past UK attacks, removing financial worries at a time of great trauma.

“Only those who have found themselves a target of hate can truly understand the needs of those affected, so the National Emergencies Trust warmly welcomes the publication of the Survivors’ Charter today, which has been made possible by survivors’ dedication. We look forward to reviewing its recommendations, including with members of our Survivors Advisory Forum, so that we can identify where the National Emergencies Trust can add its support.”

A spokesperson for McCue Jury & Partners said:

"We have worked with victims and survivors of terrorism for over two decades. Our experience is that, time and time again, victims have had to overcome a lack of proper state support, unnecessary legal barriers and other practical restrictions to achieve justice.

“This experience demonstrates exactly what this report highlights; that there are fundamental failings in the UK’s response to acts of terrorism which could be simply remedied by the government. Including: removing prohibitive conditions on when and where victims can bring their legal actions and who they can be brought against.

“The UK must widen the doorways to its courts for victims and survivors and take positive steps now to ensure that all such victims have full and fair access to justice.”

The Survivors’ Charter report

The report provides a comparative analysis exploring the state provided support to survivors of terrorism across eight countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, New Zealand, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States of America

The report analyses the rights, guarantees and support available to survivors of terrorism across the world with the aim of comparing and contrasting different countries and different systems.

It explores the support provided to survivors by state authorities in eight different countries. SAT spoke to and consulted local experts and survivors in each respective country, and were assisted by international experts in the field from across the globe.

Based on this analysis SAT incorporated the best practices from each example in order to propose a new standard for supporting those affected by terrorism, forming the “Survivors’ Charter”.

The full report is available here

The Survivors Charter: Eight Guarantees

The Charter is composed of good practices from each of the eight nations studied, and its adoption would put the UK at the cutting edge of survivor support, make a profound difference to the lives of all involved, and enable the state to effectively express its solidarity with those affected by terrorism.

They are:

I. Guaranteed proactive personal support
Create and resource a ‘Survivors of Terrorism Support Hub’ - an independent, arms’ length body operating to support survivors of attacks, connecting them to specific services, advocating for their rights and ensuring the commitments of the charter are upheld. This prevents survivors from having to submit repeated applications to access different services, and by proactively monitoring their longer term needs it will ensure that all guaranteed assessment and treatment deadlines are adhered to, providing fair, equal, and transparent access to support mechanisms.
II. Guaranteed access to rapid psychological triage and services
Too often victims of terrorism face delays of several months or even years in their attempts to access treatment for the mental health impacts of terrorism. This is not acceptable. By guaranteeing a six-week maximum wait between a request for assistance (and initial screening) and the start of treatment, we can seek to better address and mitigate the aggravating factors which can lead an individual affected by an act of terrorism to require longer term psychiatric treatment.
III. Guaranteed immediate financial assistance
The establishment of an expedited financial relief scheme would alleviate the immediate financial strife of having survived injury or having been bereaved as a result of terrorism, and allow those affected to focus upon their immediate recovery rather than the additional aggravating factors and worries which may hinder their long-term prospects.
IV. Guaranteed State Compensation Fund
Creating a separate compensation fund that has a specific remit solely for terrorist acts, constituted for those affected when an attack occurs. In our current situation, significant disparities have arisen between attacks in different parts of the country, or indeed overseas, and the methodologies utilised in each attack.
V. Guaranteed legal support
By the very nature of the incident in which they have been involved, survivors should receive guaranteed access to free legal assistance and representation, should they wish, throughout the resulting judicial processes. All survivors should be afforded the opportunity to contribute and submit evidence at inquests and inquiries should they wish to do so, for a failure to incorporate such voices only serves to frustrate the legal process and prevent a victim’s access to justice.
VI. Guaranteed Recognition
The state should find a way of publicly recognising what survivors have endured. In France they have created a National Medal of Recognition for Victims of Terrorism and in Spain they have created a Royal Order of Civil Recognition for Victims of Terrorism; in this country we propose an addition to the system of Queen’s honours that would recognise the sacrifice of those injured or bereaved.
VII. Guaranteed Memorialisation
A National Day of Remembrance and Tribute to Survivors of Terrorism would mark an important change in the way in which we as a society view those affected. Marked by annual events the National Day would serve as a symbolic and long-lasting recognition of the fact that victims of terrorism are often targeted as emblematic of the British state, and not as individuals.
By consulting on the creation of a permanent physical monument or memorial in honour of all British victims of terrorism a physical focal point of remembrance for memorial events, fulfilling a purpose not dissimilar to a cenotaph.
VIII. Guaranteed comprehensive long-term support
There must be guarantees on minimum long-term provision for these additional needs, particularly as many will only emerge several months or years following an attack. One significant example would be the need for custom orthopaedic prosthetics.

The Conservative Government is committed to consulting on a Survivors’ Charter

In 2019 the UK was identified by a landmark Council of Europe report as providing “a mixed experience”, marred by “unsatisfactory” support.

Later that year, in the aftermath of the Fishmongers’ Hall Attack in November 2019, over seventy British survivors of terrorism came together to pen a letter calling on whichever party won the election to commit to providing further support for those affected.

In December both major parties committed to consult on a Survivors’ Charter.

“A Conservative Majority Government will ... consult on a Survivors’ Charter to ensure fast access to mental health support and compensation.”

Survivors Against Terror (SAT) was set up by people injured or bereaved by terrorism to tackle terrorism and the harm that is causes.

SAT’s objectives are three-fold:

  1. Pushing for better support for survivors.
  2. Advocating for policies that make future attacks less likely. 3. Helping the public play an active role in tackling terrorism.

SAT started in 2018 with a landmark study surveying nearly 300 survivors who had been affected by acts of terrorism both at home and overseas. The survey detailed the current gaps in support and their collective priorities. This report has provides the mandate for work since and the priorities it identified have become key work strands of SAT’s work, from compensation to mental health support.

All SAT work is led by survivors and ranges from policy and campaigning work to research and public engagement. This report is supported by several other research papers exploring specific aspects such as mental health.