Middlesbrough FC becomes ‘flagship’ organisation to implement widely acclaimed ‘social inclusion’ programme.
Can an hour long workshop and a 7 minute film teach “British Values”, challenge extremist views and overcome racism and Islamophobia?
Middlesbrough Football Club has acquired a groundbreaking initiative to modernise its social inclusion and social integration efforts. The ‘Identity & Integration’ workshop developed by Teesside based Media Cultured CIC has already been celebrated by senior political figures and UK based faith groups. In a first for professional sports clubs; MFC is now taking these “inspirational” ideas (designed for schools and colleges) to the football terraces and beyond.
Media Cultured’s workshops are designed to promote ‘understanding, respect and unity’ by helping participants understand the core values shared by all colours, creeds, nationalities and religious groups.
Supported by DigitalCity at Teesside University, Media Cultured has been signed up to deliver the programme internally at MFC. In addition, the program will also be delivered under licence to local schools and other organisations by MFC’s own Foundation Team.
Amjid Khazir, who founded the ‘unique’ social enterprise said:
Football is at the heart of many communities and it has the prospect to be a real force for good. That is why it is so important that MFC has made the decision to commit itself to promoting integration at the ‘grass roots’ level.
Having lost his uncle Zabir shortly after an attack that police believed was racially motivated and himself having worked for many years voluntarily in the faith sector to challenge extremist views, Amjid knew that overcoming the lack of ‘credible role models’ across the media and educational spectrums was the key to changing attitudes and behaviours.
It is important to drive forward initiatives to combat the misconceptions and misunderstandings that can isolate people and communities from each other and prove a fertile breeding ground for extremism.
In developing the programme and ‘social purpose’ model Amjid looked at how extremist groups attract vulnerable members and how he could combat their rhetoric. He explained:
Young people especially are often recruited and indoctrinated using videos posted on different social media channels – this can start by simply following a Twitter link. In developing the right strategy for Media Cultured’s workshops and overall model, I looked at how groups such as the EDL and Al-Shabaab etc used a variety of social media tools alongside traditional recruitment methods to push their divisive message and it was clear there was no counter narrative to these.
The Media Cultured programme has been endorsed by government anti-terrorism czar Lord Carlisle and is currently being delivered in a number of educational institutions in the North East and Yorkshire.
‘Media Cultured’s programme is unique in its insight into the issues surrounding discord between different groups in the UK. Its approach offers many potential merits, engaging with young people before they are radicalised and illustrating the positive nature of multiculturalism in Britain today.
Mark Ellis, Chief Executive of Middlesbrough Football Club, said:
We have appointed Media Cultured to deliver its social inclusion programmes as we are committed to increasing and improving the cultural awareness of our staff. We’re doing that for two reasons – firstly, it’s an obligation on us as a major institution in Teesside. We play a large part in the community and feel it is our duty to lead the way when it comes to community issues. It’s important to us to work to spread cultural awareness on Teesside. Secondly, it makes good business sense. We’ve a large multicultural population in the Teesside area but that isn’t reflected in our supporter base and that is something we need to change. We want to make sure that our own staff become much more culturally aware, and that they’re open to different groups within society. Media Cultured has delivered a ‘train the trainer’ workshop for our senior managers but this is only the beginning of what will be an on-going programme. We will be taking the programme into our management and supervisory teams over the next few months. “Once they are on board we will roll it out to match stewards, officials and many more involved with the club.
Middlesbrough Football Club’s Foundation has also agreed to become trainers to deliver the Media Cultured integration programme into schools in the local area. Helena Pinder, Manager of Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation, said:
Media Cultured is an inspiring organisation. We’ve adopted it because it is important to get the message on integration across to our community, into schools and to young people to open them up to different cultures. We will be delivering it as an hour-long interactive workshop to local secondary school children and people within the community. MFC Foundation delivers a number of projects with disadvantaged and disengaged sections of society.
Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said:
Like Teesside University, Middlesbrough Football Club has a big social and economic impact in Teesside. MFC’s partnership recognises the valuable role Media Cultured can play in promoting a harmonious society. DigitalCity fellowships were developed to help ground-breaking ideas move from development into truly ground-breaking projects that can make a real difference. Media Cultured is an excellent example of this.