The Building Resilience Against Violence and Extremism (BRaVE) programme visited Lancaster & Morecambe College (LMC) on Thursday 13 February to make our learners aware of the exploitative recruitment processes used by gangs and violent extremists.
The learners also learnt the catastrophic dangers involved with joining such groups and the serious consequences of supplying drugs and committing crime. Most importantly, though, the young people left the session with real tools to avoid recruitment and exploitation.
BRaVE combines expertise and insight with real testimonies of ‘formers’ alongside case studies, which was today delivered by Michael from St. Giles Trust and Malik from ConnectFutures. Both of whom our students were keen to meet after the session took place, to shake their hand and thank them for their words of advice.
The first half of the session was delivered by Malik, and focused on safeguarding against violent extremism.
“It’s important because the things we talk about these kids are going to see in their life time, even if its not prevalent now, it will be in the future and can affect themselves, their younger siblings, and other loved ones around them”
He explained the process of radicalisation and disengagement with examples from the far right and Islamist extremisms, and he also taught the learners about the recruiter techniques used by ‘elders’, including grooming.
“It’s about different places and different timeframes; you look at places like Liverpool, Manchester and London and think it’s kind of too late, those places are heavily affected by gang violence. In the Lancaster & Morecambe area and places similar to this we hope to catch it early and speak to those young people before it affects them.”
During the second half, Michael from St. Giles Trust took to the stage to focus on preventing gang exploitation. This part of the session aimed to create a cultural shift amongst the young people, by dispelling the myths which glamorise gang life and crime, whilst also exposing the serious exploitative and grooming tactics that take place when employing young people to join gangs and commit crime.
“You can’t force people to listen to you, my goal is to plant that seed and then it is up to themselves to decide what they’re going to do with it. They can decide to live a life of crime or they can listen to someone who’s lived it first-hand.”
Industry experts such as Michael and Malik tour the UK visiting schools, colleges and organisations to share their lived experiences, in an attempt to prevent history from repeating itself within the younger generation.
LMC Governors, Thelma Aye and Tim Cross, were also in attendance during the morning session and discussed the importance of teaching young people resilience, especially when it comes to growing up as a teenager in a world so divulged in social media and online gaming.
We can't build walls around the College, so we need to give our students the strength and character to know how to protect themselves against these external threats.