For some, the mention of Prevent can cause alarm, concerned by headlines they have seen. But what is it really like?
As someone who has been through this process, I'm going to give you an honest account of what it's like from a personal opinion as a young person who has been there and done it.
To start, my overall experience with Prevent was really positive.
One thing I really appreciated at the very beginning was hearing how everything was completely voluntary. This made me feel really comfortable in opening up and talking to my IP (intervention Provider), who gave me mentoring support. It made me feel as if I had a way out, if things were too much.
My IP was a massive reason for my positive experience with Prevent.
I remember when we first met the first thing he did was shake my hand and introduce himself. From there he went on to tell me about his backstory and about his upbringing. Through him talking about his background I recognised a lot of myself within him. This, mixed with his openness made me really respect him.
From there we continued to have a chat about our common interests like Football, Boxing and MMA.
This really started to open up our conversations and over time, this style helped build the relationship between us.
After about an hour of us chatting about everyday things, we moved on to what I was involved in. If I’m honest at first I didn’t really trust him enough to fully open up so I started off just by talking to him about these quotes that I had which I believed to be from the Quran. After chatting to him for a while on the topic he advised me to download an app which was just the Quran translated into English.
What I liked about this is he didn’t tell me I had to download it, he just advised me, so I did it. What I also liked is he didn’t approach it from an “educate yourself” way, he just gave me some gentle encouragement to do research and see what I could find.
So because I thought he was a good guy, I did as he asked. I downloaded the app and researched the 20 or so quotes that I had which I believed to be from the Quran.
After researching them I came to the realization that all but 1 of the quotes I had was completely fake, and the 1 that was real was taken dramatically out of context. It was at this point that I realised for the first time the extreme right-wing had lied to me, and manipulated me.
That small bit of advice is what spurred me to do more research into everything I was talking about at the time.
Over the next 6 weeks or so I had weekly meetings with my IP. Each week he’d give me more advice and equally as importantly he was boosting my self-confidence too.
I really believe my IP went above and beyond with me. He saw beyond the labels of racist, bigot and fascist that most people had branded me with and saw a person.
He helped me every step of the way on my journey out of the extreme right-wing
Prevent did a great job assigning him to me. He wasn’t the most local IP, but he was the right IP. This is something Prevent does because they want to protect people and offer a safe space to talk. They give you the best IP for you, not the one that is the closest and that makes total sense.
I really feel if I got an IP I didn’t get along with, it could have sent me the other way, and caused me to get more deeply involved with the extreme right-wing, but I got the right IP for me and I will always be thankful
To anyone unsure about getting support from Prevent, my advice is I would recommend Prevent to anyone who is in need of support.
Reach out, talk and see what support you can get.
Today, I seek to help others walk away from hate as a support officer for the Exit Hate charity, educating people on the dangers of extremism.
Understanding how easy it is to succumb to extremist messages, I also know with a little bit of help people can change, all you have to be is open to listening and it could save you from wasting years of your life.
To find out more search Prevent & then your town or city.
John - Former ERW Activist and Exit Hate Support Officer