Today, extremism is growing as people search for answers they have for their concerns and worries. People are worried and extremists from all political and religious path take advantage of that need and seek to offer simple answers to very complex questions and sadly it works.
Once people are involved, they succumb to simple messaging, the acceptance of their opinions and feel valued. They are embraced as friends and comrades in a struggle create a better world, but the world they step into is dangerous and can harm, not just themselves, but their families, the community they live in and the country, so many on the far-right talk about how much they care for.
But what can be done?
Firstly, we need to understand ALL extremism is wrong and nothing worthwhile ever comes from supporting any form of extremism. We need to take on board how extremists are offering things people want – a listening ear, value, and friendship, because if we don’t, we will NEVER tackle extremism as we should.
We need to realise extremism has been around for a long time, over 100 years in the case of the far-right, so any attempt to reduce it is going to take a long time and needs to include both partnership working, but also long-term development and investment.
It’s not going to be easy; we need to raise awareness in our communities of what to look out for, we need to educate businesses the impact can have on them and what responsibilities they have and also we need to engage with policy makers and funders to bring them in to help us reduce extremism long-term.
As an organisation, Exit Hate UK is only part of the answer to reducing extremism, but one which leads by example. We offer the training needed to raise general awareness of the dangers of extremism, we train people to become trusted community friends, who people can talk to in their communities, who in turn, can listen and signpost people to support or further information to help them. We highlight why involvement in extremism is wrong and the damage it does to all of us and we look for answers.
We believe Education, Compassion and Understanding are the best ways forward to reduce extremism, and while our focus is far-right extremism, we help others walk away from other paths who are just as destructive, bringing in specialist partners to provide their unique services.
We help individuals walk away from hate, by revaluating their beliefs and support and we also support families with a loved one involved, who has done so, not because of family influence, but because of content they have found, in most cases online. Lost and alone they had no-one, but since 2017, families with a loved one involved have had people they can turn to via the Exit Family Support programme. Here support is available, by people who understand and don’t judge. People who have been involved themselves or parents who have been through it. Supported by trained councillors our holistic approach works, but we want to do more.
Reaching out to others we need help to build an alternative to life in the far-right and a support network for both individuals and families impacted by extremism. Challenging someone’s views is just the start. Done correctly, it will make people re-evaluate their belief system, see the inaccuracies in it and help people walk away, but what after?
Most activists live for the movement and are active every single day, some for an hour or two, others for the whole day, week after week, month after month, year after year, so there needs to be something in place to fill that void, otherwise they pull back, may start, not because of a rekindling of their extremist beliefs, but because of NEED for mental stimulation, company, friendship and need to feel valued and busy!
Without tackling this, engagements on their own, simply aren’t as effective as they could be and we need to look at the wider picture to build the foundation and infrastructure needed to tackle extremism and start building the foundations now, which are needed to build a safer society we all want.
So, what’s needed?
Agreement – Its sounds simple, but those involved in tackling extremism, need to agree that the only way forward is partnership working and long-term focus. Without this we are simply never going to do what is needed and ultimately that means extremism growing and people getting hurt.
Partnership Working – Many organisations and individuals have some amazing skills, so let’s use them! Together, we can share our expertise and make a real difference. But we need to come around a table and talk about how we work together
Skilled Operatives – Working within the field of extremism, is skilled. Not done well, extremism grows, and people suffer. So, lets listen to each other, learn and use the right people in the right places. This isn’t about ego or money, its about creating societies we can all live which are as safe as possible. Let’s get the best people available for the job. Learn from them and work together.
Funding – Yes, we had to bring it up. Tackling extremism is going to cost. Funding the payment of critical staff and engagement work, secure accommodation, which is safe for everyone who uses it and many other things – like IT equipment, software, travel costs, etc there us a lot, but it all needs funding long-term, not 12-24 months, because who is going to leave a full-time job when you have a family, mortgage etc. and this is just the start so we can encourage the right people to become involved in this work, as not only is it draining beyond belief, it can also be dangerous and the safety of staff and their families should always be taken into consideration.
Seeking to open the door to others to help us reduce extremism long-term, this article seeks to start a conversation and build a network of individuals, organisations and others who understand what we are saying and can see what is needed.
If you are one of those people, then please get in touch with us at – firstname.lastname@example.org
We would love to hear from you.