Parents in Lewisham were offered workshops on how to combat possible signs of radicalisation within their families.
The group FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) organises the workshops for anyone concerned that a loved one might be at risk of radicalisation.
Councillor Saleha Jaffer, founder of FAST, told EastLondonLines that while there is no specific problem in Lewisham connecting it to radicalisation, she did find a lot of interest in the community after Saturday’s workshop.
She said: “This isn’t just a Lewisham thing. We’re not just doing Lewisham, we do it all over the country. We want to educate families and help them see the signs, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“When we delivered our workshop on Saturday, Lewisham mothers said ‘we need more of these’. There was a lot of interest expressed and they were saying that it is not in Islam, and that we must do everything we can to prevent our children from being radicalised.”
Jaffer said that there will likely be more workshops in Lewisham in the future, and explained what it is that they do in the workshops. She said: “We want to educate families.”
“First of all, we want them to know what is extremism, what is radicalisation, what people are thinking when they say jihad and what really is the meaning of it.” So these are the things we want to educate, specially parents, and especially mothers about, because they’re the ones who notice the changes in the behaviour of their children.
“[In the workshops] we ask them if they know the signs of radicalism,” she said, “of their children behaving a bit differently, and if they do have concerns, what do they do with those concerns? Do they just put it under the carpet or do they talk to someone? When we establish that we work on those issues.”
“Most of the time these women don’t know what radicalism and extremism is, and they are frightened that it should not happen in their families or communities. But they want to stop it, they want to protect their children, and they want to learn more, so that’s what we do.”
The first workshop this year was held on Saturday in Lewisham at the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association as part of its Families Matter Campaign, where they provide support and practical advice on identifying potential signs of radicalisation.
FAST hopes that by using real life case studies and providing expert advice, parents will feel empowered to intervene and stop radicalisation at its early stages.
Chief Constable Simon Cole, national policing lead for Prevent said: “The consequences of radicalisation can be devastating for families. We have seen mums, dads, brothers and sisters shocked and heartbroken by the actions of a loved one who has been drawn into extremism.
“Lives can be ruined or even lost unless someone intervenes. Knowing what to look out for and who to turn to for support vital. These workshops provide invaluable help and advice.”
The group runs nationwide to reach out to parents and families through a series of workshops, film screenings and one-to-one advice sessions.
The group suggests if you have concerns about a loved one that might be affected, you may want to raise the issue with someone you trust, perhaps a friend or family member who knows them well. Jaffer added: “Whether people have problems or not, it’s better to be educated.”
You can find more information here: http://familiesmatter.org.uk/take-action/spot-the-signs/