Government terrorism expert Lord Carlile this week backed a Middlesbrough based ‘social cohesion’ programme and spoke on the need to prevent extremism becoming ‘endemic’ in society. On a visit to Middlesbrough Lord Carlile of Berriew, a member of the National Prevent Oversight Board (which aims to prevent violent extremism) and the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation from 2001 to 2011, spoke on the need for such programmes across the UK.
Lord Carlile observed an ‘Identity and Integration’ workshop which was developed by Media Cultured, a social enterprise set up with support from Teesside University, and delivered to Redcar and Cleveland College students. He stated: “Counter extremist measures such as the work I’ve seen run by Media Cultured today should be put in place across the UK.
“If we don’t tackle extremism at street and community level then it will become a serious and endemic problem in society. “We have to start with young people. Young people have to understand that violent extremism is not a part of the society in which we live. British people don’t do it and that of course includes British Muslims who are as British as anyone else.
“I’ve been very impressed by the programme that’s been done to deal with radicalisation here in Middlesbrough. “The National Prevent Oversight Board has the aim of preventing violent extremism. Examples of good practice, for example here in Middlesbrough, and examples of bad practice – which I’ve seen in other places – inform government and local government as to what should be done. “Teesside University is supporting a very important initiative and those running this initiative are setting an example for the whole country.”Also attending the workshop were representatives from Middlesbrough Council and Cleveland Police.
Amjid Khazir, who founded Media Cultured to improve social cohesion with support from a Teesside University DigitalCity Fellowship; said: “The workshops and training sessions we deliver with Media Cultured can be customised from an hour’s session to a term or semesters length course and are easily adapted for most age groups, they are designed primarily for schools, colleges and universities but also enhance Equality and Diversity training programmes at private businesses. “The supporting resources are built up around short films, they help create constructive discourse and provide safe spaces for discussion; so the knowledge we have of different people and diverse cultures is understood through the illustration of core values, such as compassion, respect and charity, these are just some of the values we all recognise and appreciate. “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 and racism.”
Laura Woods, Director of Academic Enterprise at Teesside University, said: “Lord Carlile recognises the valuable role Media Cultured can play in promoting a harmonious society.