VICTIMS of torture have sought specialist support to help them cope with a controversial advertising campaign that tells asylum-seekers how easy it is to go home.

The UK Border Agency campaign, which has been described as offensive and insensitive, asks immigrants how hard their lives are in Scotland and says: "Let us help you go home."

Tha campaign is being tested in Glasgow. The main public inquiries office of UKBA in Scotland has been plastered with images of aeroplanes, while the centre's seats are branded with the slogan: "Ask about going home."

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The organisation Freedom From Torture, which works regularly in Glasgow with 170 clients from countries including Syria, Iran, and Iraq, says clients report an increase in nightmares and physical manifestations of trauma.

The organisation, which takes referrals from GPs and mental health services for psychotherapy for torture victims, said scores of their patients have used therapy sessions to talk about the trauma of the advertising campaign.

"It is hampering their ability to cope with problems they are already facing," said Norma McKinnon, centre manager and therapist. "They are fleeing ­countries where they have been tortured. Nothing about these posters treats people with dignity or humanity.

"All of them have active asylum claims so they have put their hopes in the hands of the Home Office and the only message they are getting back from them is how easy it is to go home.

"The people who come to us are using their therapy sessions to help them cope with this. For so many people to use their therapy sessions to talk about this and ask for help with coping with this [poster campaign] is overwhelming."

Ms McKinnon said patients had resorted to looking at the floor to avoid the posters, only to see the same words written on the floor.

"These people are already suffering from flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. The thought of return is so overwhelming that these posters are really frightening. They said they noticed an increase in poor sleep patterns and nightmares and an overall sense of hopelessness."

The organisation also facilitates medico-legal reports for lawyers. Doctors, psychologists and counsellors document evidence of effects of torture through the reports. They are crucial to enable survivors of torture to secure safety in the UK and stop being returned to further torture or death.

One poster, apparently showing a person sleeping rough on the streets, states: "Is life here hard? Going home is simple." Another shows a photo of an aircraft and says: "The plane can take you home. We can book the tickets."

The campaign is running at the UKBA office in Brand Street, Glasgow, and the reporting centre in Hounslow, west London. Started on July 29, it will run until October 4.

It was defended by the Home Office as part of a policy to provide sensitive advice and assistance to help failed asylum-seekers return home with dignity. Critics say the offices are used by asylum-seekers still in the system.

Tom Harris, MP for ­Glasgow South, condemned the pilot, calling it "political posturing".