Teens spend school holidays reaching out to those vulnerable to radicalisation
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After schools closed overnight, exams were cancelled and classrooms moved to the cloud, it’s been quite the year for young people up and down the country.
With their summer holiday plans up in their air, a group of Leicestershire teens were determined to make the most of their time off through the National Citizenship Service (NCS); a youth programme that runs across England and Northern Ireland with an aim of engaging, uniting and empowering young people. The teenagers were presented with a list of NCS partners and chose to team up with the Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands (CTP EM) Prevent Team, taking on the task of helping them ‘get down with the kids’.
Despite having never heard of Prevent - an initiative designed to provide help and guidance to the public in order to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism - within hours the group of 15-16-year-olds were pitching their ‘business plan’ Dragons Den style. From video production to school blogs, posters to social media content; they certainly set the bar pretty high for themselves.
CTP EM has supported the initiative for a number of years, with groups usually spending a few weeks at a time embedded within the Prevent Team while coming up with ways to better engage with young people. However, due to social distancing requirements, they were only able to spend five days with the team this year, including a day off in between to collect their GCSE results. Despite racing against the clock, what they achieved in a short space of time was very impressive.
They came up with a new logo, launched a ‘Twitter takeover’, created social media content, and produced a ‘We are Prevent’ video showcasing statistics and signposting support, which you can watch here. You can see the innovative new logo here, as well as read some of the Facebook posts they put together.
Prevent Engagement Officer Rachel Sheppard said: “Every year we are blown away by the hard work and innovation shown by the young people across the East Midlands. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to get an insight into the latest social media trends and hear from one of the demographics we are trying to reach; we gain just as much from it as they do. Despite having only just done their GCSEs, the professionalism shown was extremely impressive and their messaging really encompassed who we are and what we aim to do.”
Rachael Clarke, NCS Manager at LEBC said: “This team, along with over 120 others, have made a real difference to local people’s lives through their projects. Their ability to problem solve and think outside the box is a real asset that all the partner charities and organisations have benefitted from this summer and it’s given the participants a welcome boost to their wellbeing, social skills and experience of environments outside of school. These students will be starting college in September more aware of their skill sets and more confident to take on future challenges. Thank you to CTP EM’s Prevent Team for your involvement and the opportunity you have provided”.
One of the teenagers in the team of NCS participants commented: “We are really proud of our work, getting a project done in such short time, meeting new people and getting up early in the morning for the first time in months. The icing on the cake has been seeing the feedback from the Prevent team, it has made us feel our work was really appreciated and we can see the impact it will have for months to come too. It’s been an amazing week; it’s been rewarding, fun and memorable - I just wish it was longer!”