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People Can Change - If They Want To




Looking at people involved in extremism, it’s very important to recognise that anyone can change if they want to and it’s so important that everyone has an open mind to this. 


As people grow, they change. It’s natural and something we will all experience as time moves on.. Suddenly things that we loved as young people just don't seem as appealing as they used to anymore. These could include food, drinks, TV shows or even political/cultural opinions. 


When I first started to hear about the ERW (Extreme Right-Wing) I was a young person of just 14 and at that age, I was still watching Spongbob and had my WWE figures on display. 


Now if you met me today,  you wouldn't assume I still loved Spongebob, so it isn’t fair to assume people would still have the same political views they once had and cannot change if they want to. 


If people want to change,  they can do so and this is why the support available from Prevent and Exit Hate is so important. Offering free support, both can be accessed by people needing support and is voluntary, no-one is forced to engage with Prevent or Exit Hate, they are just doors to hope, change and a better life, one without fear, judgement or ridicule, instead they offer an opportunity to change for the better and it is at this stage where a lot of people can open up  to change.


As a society, we need to be prepared to understand why people become involved in extremism, what helps people embrace it and what could be done to reduce people becoming involved in extremism.


Seeking to open doors for people who become involved in extremism, we need to to get society to look at people as individuals and not extremists, people involved in extremism, where individuals before they became extremists and with help people can change if they want to and if people do we need society to forgive people for their mistakes and give them a second chance.


People's mistakes SHOULD NOT BE LIFE SENTENCES, THEY SHOULD BE LIFE LESSONS and what we need to reduce extremism is for society to forgive people's mistakes. 

Former activists are not asking for society to forget, many Formers understand and accept that we must be honest and accept and own what we said while we were involved and own what we did, because there were reasons for this.


Accepting this and taking ownership can be really hard and it can be a really difficult time for formers who need to forgive themselves and therefore what society needs to do is not make that process even harder as otherwise it could lead to people not leaving extremism or if they have left,  relapsing and potentially rejoining the Extreme Right-Wing, (ERW)


When I left the ERW,  it took me a really long time to gain the support of some of my friends and even some of my family members. At that time in my life I just needed a little bit of a hand on the shoulder and a bit of rallying around me and support. Nothing too big or over the top, just a hand on the shoulder from one of those family members and a little “you’re doing really well, keep it up” and this would have gone so far! Looking back I never expected to get welcomed back with open arms right away, I knew I would have to prove myself but at times the task seemed overwhelming. I was on the verge of saying F*** the world and going into my own shell, but thankfully that didn’t happen and i didn’t give in. 


Over time one or 2 friends and family members started to show forgiveness, so I started to reconnect and attach myself to them. Thinking about this is difficult, it was a really hard time but to their credit because they opened up and stuck their neck on the line  for me, i totally respect that and this over time reintroduced me to the wider family again and reopened old friendship groups. 

Eventually over  time those who had been cold at first, started to warm up and now I’m in the best position I have ever been in terms of friends and family. I know today people can change, they just need help.


So if you are reading this, please please show some compassion.Find out about how people can become involved in extremism, it’s easier than you think, and it is happening to thousands of people across the globe, because extremism is available 24/7 via the internet.


So as I look to finish this article, please can I ask that you show a little bit of kindness because people have no idea how far it can go. 


Please also remember. People who want to change can change, but they need support and a kind word or a listening ear can go a long way and that's all i ask of people who read this article 


Finally please remember when you are talking to someone who has been involved with extremism that you see the person as an individual, not an extremist and this could be the open door they need.


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If you want to walk away from extremism and need support, then please reach out to Exit Hate Trust for non-judgemental support.


Please contact - info@exithate.org or call 0800 999 1945.


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