February 26, 2010 Faith Matters

Prevent Peers Programme

Prevent Peers Programme – Training on Prevent Work with 8 Local Authorities in the West Midlands Area in England

Faith leaders, elected members and officers in eight local authorities in the West Midlands were provided with support on what the Prevent strategy entailed, Al Qaeda social narratives that were used to pull in young disaffected people and Far Right groups active in England. (A full overview of the Prevent Peers programme can be found through this link).

Faith Matters (www.faith-matters.org) therefore successfully completed the Prevent Peers programme which supported faith leaders[1], elected members and officers on the Prevent agenda within 8 local authorities in the West Midlands region. The local authorities that the programme covered included Birmingham, Sandwell and Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Telford and Wrekin, Solihull and Coventry. Stoke on Trent opted out of the scheme. [2]

The project provided 5 training sessions (per participant) as well as on-line and telephony support to participants from October 2009 to March 2010.  The Prevent Peers programme has provided that support in a consistent, ongoing and accessible manner whilst assisting and facilitating further discussions about developments in Prevent. This was essential and ensured that elected members, faith leaders and officers felt that there was support available when they needed it on a fast moving, complex and contentious agenda.

We are very sensitive to the fact that Prevent has been contentious and the language and training took into account the sensitivities around the agenda.

The Prevent Peers programme took a more holistic view of the Prevent agenda through the 5 sessions which totalled 15 hours of training per participant. Participants were urged to attend all of the sessions; which included the following:

  • Al Qaeda and Violent Extremism (session 1)
  • Extremist Ideologies. What are They? Who are They Aimed at? (sessions 2 and 3)
  • What does Prevent Mean to Councillors and Potential Radicalisation Narratives in other faith communities? (session 4)
  • Media Training and Dealing with Emergency Response Situations for Councillors (session 5)

Telephony and E-mail Support

Part of the support package that came with this programme involved mobile and telephony support up to the end of March 2010. The telephony support involved direct support by Cllr Fiyaz Mughal, who has over 3 years of experience in Prevent and 6 years of work within the cohesion agenda. Further support was also provided by Cllr Mahroof Hussain who is the portfolio holder for Communities in Rotherham and who has also been involved in the Prevent agenda for 3-4 years. Both Fiyaz and Mahroof were also involved in working groups that were part of the Task Force set up by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, post the 7/7 bombings. They are also both IDeA (Improvement and Development Agency) accredited peer mentors on Prevent work.

Furthermore, the Prevent Peers programme had councillors working within it from all of the three main political parties.

E-mail support was also available through the following e-mail address, preventpeers@faith-matters.co.uk. Responses were provided within 48 hours of the enquiry being received.

(Note: A detailed report on the Prevent Peers programme can be found by clicking the Prevent Peers link)

[1] These included Imams, priests etc and those who religiously led institutions in which prayer took place.

[2] It was decided after discussions with officers at the local authority that the programme would not include them in the 09/10 training round.