Helping Households Under Great Stress (HHUGS) is a UK registered charity that exists to provide financial, emotional, and practical support and advice to Muslim households impacted by counter-terrorism, national security and extremism-related laws, policies and procedures, in the UK and abroad.
Since 11 September 2001, 2,710 families have been impacted by a terrorism related arrest in the UK, of which 54% result in the detainee being released without charge. Some have never been never prosecuted for any specific criminal offence but are instead detained without charge or subjected to Terrorism Preventative Investigative Measures (T-PIMs), a regime under which suspects are placed under house arrest and have severe restrictions placed on their freedom of association, movement and ability to communicate with others, despite the fact they have not been charged.
For every arrest and detention, a home has been raided and ravaged and a family has suffered the loss of a loved one, a bread winner, a dear husband. a much loved son. These are homes where life will never be the same.
For many of these families, ordinary daily tasks become increasingly difficult as they struggle to make ends meet and maintain physical contact with their loved ones, often imprisoned hundreds of miles away. Moreover, due to the nature of the crimes for which their loved ones are accused, these families find themselves ostracized and marginalized from both the religious and ethnic communities that they belong to as well as the wider society. They are lonely, vulnerable, and desperate for help.
Our mission is to banish the ‘guilty by association’ label experienced by the wives and children of terror suspects. We believe that they should not be penalized and discriminated against on the basis that their loved ones are accused of involvement in criminal activity.
We strive to bring relief and support to households devastated by anti-terror raids by offering friendship in addition to emotional, financial, and practical support, advice and information through a country-wide network of dedicated volunteers.
Most importantly, we aim to empower these vulnerable women and children so that they develop the necessary skills and confidence to not only support themselves but to also become part of a support network for others in similar difficulties. The aim of our work with prisoners’ families is to help them achieve the outcomes below.
- Restore confidence and self esteem
- Restore honour and dignity
- Strengthen family relationships
- Reduce social isolation
- Improve life and coping skills
- Increase understanding of the criminal justice system
- Improve mental and physical health.
Our services are free, confidential and tailored specifically to the needs of each family. There is a small staff team, although most of the services are provided by dedicated volunteers around the country. Prisoners’ families are actively involved in the planning and development of the service.
HHUGS is the only charity of its kind operating in the UK and from its inception in 2004, has been a beacon of light to over a hundred families who struggle to survive in the shadows of society. HHUGS does not aim simply to alleviate financial hardship but to provide the crucial emotional and moral support and practical skills necessary to empower these invisible victims to re-emerge from the darkness as confident individuals and full members of society.