On the 17th of March I held an event to encourage constituents to contribute to a consultation headed by Andy Burnham on preventing hateful extremism and promoting social cohesion in Greater Manchester.
Thanks to friends and neighbours who joined me at Limelight to share your thoughts and for those who could and couldn't be there you can see the final submission below:
OBJECTIVE 1: To consider how Prevent operates in Greater Manchester across all agencies
KEY LINES OF ENQUIRY
- How do we effectively educate people on the positive safeguarding work that Prevent does and what the remit of the programme is, including how it differs from other areas of counter terrorism?
- How can we work with communities to ensure that individuals, their families and the wider community’s, experience of Prevent is a positive one, and not one that is perceived as a threat or pursuit?
- How do we reassure communities that it is safe to report or discuss behaviour that they are concerned about?
- How do we feedback to communities what happens to the information that is reported?
- How do we ensure a more consistent and proportionate approach to Channel pan-Greater Manchester?
1. Many communities do not know what PREVENT is, for them it is just a buzz word that is used to justify friends or family being questioned. There are concerns over who came up with the Prevent Strategy and what it is for. Education and communication within communities is needed in order to help people understand what it is for and how they can take ownership of it, rather than feeling targeted. Is there a better system, or can it be explained in a more constructive way?
2. People felt that PREVENT creates division and enforces attitudes that radicalization only effects Muslim and Black students. They felt it specifically promotes the profiling of students. They also felt it was a tick box exercise for politicians that also targeted people with mental health issues. Solutions to tackling extremism are often faith illiterate or seen as offensive.
3. In order to work with communities, much more inclusive faith literate positive language is needed. A strategy that shows it does not just target Muslims and black students but also far right, white extremist groups. Better literature, more diverse police, councilors would be helpful. Better education, community consultations and work done to reduce fear that reporting leads to more harm in the community or repercussions and reprisals.
4. In terms of information being reported a clear transparent process is needed as far as possible, and promotion of trust through local authorities, police, churches, mosques, public service, front line services and colleges.
5. Two - way understanding between local authorities and community groups is needed.
OBJECTIVE 2: To look at the broader determinants of social exclusion and how we can work collectively to address these (to identify the issues that impact on social cohesion)
KEY LINES OF ENQUIRY:
· How can we strategically take a “what works” approach from communities that are well integrated, cohesive and supportive?
· What are the protective factors that can be applied at an individual, community and business level to support people who are at risk of becoming involved in violent extremism?
· What is the role of the business community in promoting a more cohesive Greater Manchester?
1. A what works approach can be taken from consultations and positive experiences. Eg infrastructure that promotes community engagement.
2. Community spaces, clean and well-maintained areas, lots going on, faith communities engaged with public services.
3. Investment in local areas
4. Proper resettlement schemes – eg community sponsorship
5. Good local mentors in schools and faith communities and work places
6. Cultural engagement giving space to meet and learn from one another
7. Multi-generational activities are often successful
8. Good disagreement, channels of communication
9. Challenging hate speech
10. Parental support
11. Social Exclusion: Community voluntary sectors have been squeezed eg community outreach, health care, health literacy. Austerity and debt has forced people into feeling angry and excluded from many activities.
12. Growing homelessness, and relationship breakdowns lead people to being cut off and can make people seek affirmation in the wrong places
13. Often there is nobody that someone can talk to, so there needs to be mechanisms where at risk groups can reach out or be helped in a non-threatening way.
14. Having different characteristic if you live in a community which is predominately of one culture can lead to isolation.
15. Channels for anger: Eg constructive ways for people to be able to engage these feelings and express what they think needs to change
16. Racism and prejudice often foster extremism due to enforcement of feelings of ‘other’ or outside society.
17. Working with people to understand different community’s values and norms
18. Helping people understand the law, democratic processes
OBJECTIVE 3: To engage in dialogue with our communities and the business sector to develop a Greater Manchester Charter, which includes a set of shared values and commitments that will be used as the foundations upon which the Greater Manchester Strategy work is built (not just principles that are called into action when something goes wrong)
KEY LINES OF ENQUIRY:
· Feedback from some communities across Greater Manchester has suggested that a Greater Manchester Charter would be an effective way to promote social cohesion and publicise the messages and outcomes of the Commission. This would include a set of standards and principles about expected behaviours and attitudes – what are your thoughts about this? Do you think it would work? What might a Charter look like?
· How could we encourage individuals, communities and businesses to be involved in both the development of a Charter and in its governance/oversight?
- Broadly a charter would be good, but it must contain practical objectives as well as values that reflect what type of society we want.
- Needs to be available and taught in communities
- Consultations need to happen to form the charter
- There must be a practical out working of it, eg if believe in no discrimination, and engagement then there must be events where people can meet. It needs a holistic approach and a two-way understanding
- Must involve front line services and areas like faith communities
- Values of treating people with respect and dignity
- The charter must help to build trust
- It must also help address panic and restore confidence in services
- It must contain action eg promises from local authorities and reflections back from communities
- Needs to be revisited and tested not just drawn up and left
OBJECTIVE 4: To develop a distinctive community-led Greater Manchester approach to challenging hateful radicalisation
KEY LINES OF ENQUIRY:
- What factors contribute to hateful extremism? What other information do we need to effectively answer this question?
- How can we effectively facilitate conversations about hateful extremism at a community level and how can we involve more people in these conversations?
- What would a distinctive community-led Greater Manchester approach to challenging radicalisation (of all kinds) look like?
- What would be an appropriate means of working with children and young people as part of such an approach?
- What has been learned from the Rethinking Radicalisation and RADEQUAL (in Manchester) and other innovative approaches in the metropolitan districts of GM about engaging the community about building communities' capacity to counter-extremism and safeguard young people? How might this work be built on in the future?
- Lack of access to services, isolation, social exclusion from areas like education, health, sport, basic needs like financial services/debt advice. Feeling cut off from issues around politics and foreign affairs, eg anger at the UK Government selling arms to Saudi Arabia, policy on Israel, wars in Syria, Kashmir. US President Trumps so called Muslim ban. Feeling left behind, and not understood, or nowhere to voice concerns or engage with issues in a constructive way.
- Lack of English, cuts to ESOL have meant many people struggle to learn English and cannot engage with local culture or see it as a threat so retreat back into their own areas or go online.
- Lack of diversity in the Police and NHS and education, which creates misunderstanding or attitudes of them against us.
- Lack of control online, internet service providers allowing for extreme videos on facebook, youtube etc showing how to carry out acts of terror, or messages that promote hate. The echo chamber promotes radicalization because values are reinforced, that can be from the media, eg daily mail or from staying in tight family or friendship circles. Never meeting anyone from a different group and learning about them or from them is a huge problem.
- Limited life experience, unforgiveness and not being exposed to other cultures in a safe and positive way
- Prejudice and abuse, targeting of one group can lead to feelings of resentment and anger, likewise not understanding another culture eg dress, behavior may lead to pushing back against it.
- Solutions: We need more consultation sessions, more diverse service providers, time to engage with each other listen and learn.
- Invest in ESOL, cultural awareness, invest in education and community services
- Invest in mental health services eg counselling, helping communities engage with mental heath
- Work place environment, eg time off for faith festivals/prayer rooms
- Need to know what council, church councils, mosques etc are doing in the area
- Street parties, picnic events eg Old Trafford Picnic event. Places like LimeLight that provide safe, clean, well looked after spaces. Events that provide sharing of food and safe places to engage help communities.
- Open education days in faith communities
- Better more diverse community policing
- Health community centers eg like limelight where people can drop in, talk about issues.
- Schools, vital areas to help teach about faiths, diversity. Mentors are needed who people can talk to, get advice from. Religious education should include celebrating different faiths festivals. Greater diverse set of teachers that reflect the community. Eg Prevent session in YR 10. Schools and colleges can be great places to learn from one another as can sport clubs or through drama and music.
- Start teaching children at primary schools about culture, values, eg Seymour park and Knives Road
- More inter faith work
- Encouraging women to attend social spaces, eg gyms (women only sessions)
- Affordable access to local events, sport, voluntary work, work experience, training.
- Making sure at-risk populations can access health care
- Care of streets, and local services gives people pride in an area