Redbridge teens among first in UK to be trained to prevent violent extremism

A team of 31 young people has been taught how to recognise and confront radicalisation and extremism and is preparing to protect the community.

The 15 and 16-year-olds were chosen from more than 100 young people for their roles in a project which is the first of its kind in the UK. Over the past six months they have been trained to ensure residents are prepared and know how to prevent violent extremism in their communities.

The project was run by Redbridge Council, with charity Active Change Foundation and the £36,000 cost was funded by the Home Office.

Balgees Barendilla, from the foundation, said: “We taught them to be aware of information and how people’s impressions can be manipulated and how [extremist] recruiters access young people in communities.”

Training included workshops, discussions on law and order like police stop and searches, and learning more about extremism and radicalisation.

“Recruiters know what they’re looking for and are using ways to connect with a young person to get them to listen and then they can feed them information,” Ms Barendilla said. “With the skills that we have taught, they will be able to safeguard themselves, their peers and families against it.”

The group is made up of young people from various faith groups and backgrounds.

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They learned about far right radicals, environmental activists and religious extremists.

Ms Barendilla added: “They are now better educated and they know what signs to look out for. They can critically look at information that’s put out there and have frank discussions about issues in the community.”

The young people will now each choose a cause they feel passionately about and spend a year campaigning and raising awareness.

A council spokesman said: “It is one of a number of projects the council is involved in to help raise awareness of violent extremism and radicalism.”