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Thank You Prevent

Without Prevents intervention I have no idea where I would be today, but what I can say for sure is that it would have been bad.

My journey with Prevent started at college.

After making a series of racist and offensive comments and declaring my membership of a couple of extreme right-wing groups during an English class at college, my teacher made a report to the college safeguarding lead.

At the time I never got on with this particular teacher, as my work was never, really good enough for them and for this reason I completely disengaged with English and would always be as disruptive in class as I could be, in order to be asked to leave the class, or I would just bunk off class and not go at all.

This led to me having a very bad relationship with the teacher and i honestly feel that the conflict between us both went beyond that.

For me, at the time it felt like it was personal, but I can't thank her enough for making that report to the college safeguarding lead, because I believe it saved me.

Although my experience with the teacher in my opinion was poor, my experience with the college safeguarding lead was fantastic!

To start, I had an initial meeting with her where I was very defensive about my views, and I even invited her to the next extreme right-wing demo as well as offering her an extreme right-wing sticker.

Far from being annoyed, which is what I wanted her to do, she stayed calm throughout the process and even showed me kindness.

She spoke to me about Prevent and how it worked.

She made it clear that it was all voluntary and I could disengage whenever I wanted. She also made it clear that if I made the decision not to work with Prevent it would have no effect on my position in the college and I wouldn’t be kicked out for choosing not to engage.

Looking back, I think because she was so good, it made me more open to speaking to Prevent and listening to what they had to say. She explained the process really well and I thought it would be good to listen to someone else's opinion.

One thing though I need to mention is that during this process, there were a lot of rumours that went around the college about me.

I remember one person saying that I was going to get a bunch of people from the extreme right-wing to come to college and kick off, and then another person said that I was going to vandalise the college prayer room.

After all these reports came to my college safeguarding lead, the great thing is she never overreacted.

She pulled me in for a meeting and talked me through what had been reported and asked me for my thoughts I reassured her none of this was true and thankfully she believed me. I think this is partly because I had always been honest with her, no matter if the truth made me come across as bad or not, and also all the rumours had so many different variants it was almost comical, but those rumours could have got me into real trouble.

Looking back, for all my safeguarding lead did I am incredibly grateful. She was also the leader of my course and she really bent over backwards to give me the best support possible. It wasn’t for her kindness and faith in me, I never would have engaged with Prevent and I’d probably still be involved in the extreme right wing now.

I am incredibly thankful for Prevent and specifically my IP.

Now for anyone who doesn’t know what IP stands for, it stands for Intervention Provider, and an IP is basically someone who will sit down and chat with you on a 1 to 1 basis.

From the start me and my IP got along really well and here I have to say a huge thank you to Prevent because Prevent doesn’t just give you the geographical closest IP to you, they give you an IP that they think you’ll get along with best.

Talking about everyday things, I soon realised how me and my IP had very similar upbringings and a lot of common interests.

I can’t even put into words how thankful I am to my IP. He was the first person that approached me with no judgement. I felt like he genuinely cared about helping me. Before I engaged with him everyone else tried to challenge me in a very judgemental way.

My IP gave me advice in the right way. He encouraged me to do my own research on Islam and look at the benefits of immigration. This worked perfectly because if he had told me the answers himself I probably would have tried to challenge him.

Something else I’m incredibly thankful for is how much he built my self-confidence again. He recognised skills I used in the extreme right-wing and encouraged me to use those skills in a more positive way.

Finally, I am so thankful to my IP for the aftercare he gave once the mentoring was over. He was key in getting me linked up with Exit Hate Trust, and he helped get me into the amazing career I have today, educating people about the dangers of extremism and helping challenge extremism via education.

Overall I’m so thankful for all those who were involved in getting me off that awful path and giving me a second chance in life.

If anyone is reading this and is worried about someone involved in the extreme right-wing, don’t be scared about reaching out. You can speak to us here at Exit Hate, Prevent or Act Early. We are all here to support you, and the person you are concerned about.

Offering a safe space to talk, our support is about showing people there is an alternative to extremism and opening a door to walk away from hate.

While I know not everyone will take up this offer, for those that do, I know their lives will be so much better for doing and I urge anyone involved or any families with a loved one involved, to talk to someone, you are not alone.

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