By Nigel Bromage, Founder of Small Steps and Exit Hate
Upset by the increasing impact of extremism on society, Small Steps Consultants was set up in 2015 with the aim of using education to reduce the appeal of extremism.
Nothing new in that you might say, but what made Small Steps different was the organisation was set up by a former extreme right-wing activist, who walked away from extremism and renounced his previous extremist views.
That former extremist was me. Having been involved in right-wing extremism for nearly 20 years, I attended a Prevent training session and challenged myself to use my past experiences to reduce hate and extremism thorough education, compassion and understanding.
The extreme right-wing builds not just on hate but also on feelings of loneliness, boredom, bereavement, domestic violence and feelings of a loss of identity. This often opens the door to extremists who simply seek to use those they can recruit.
Educating trusted people who work in education is crucial to opening up conversations, listening to young people’s concerns and providing a safe path away from extremism.
Active both online and offline, the extreme right wing is sadly very good at what they do. They engage with people, listen to their concerns and offer simple solutions to complicated issues. They have live streams, video games and much more, all of which appeals to young people, so we have to be able to offer alternatives.
So, what should those working in education look out for?
People who become isolated moving away from family and friends and have new friends online, is a good tell-tale sign. Others could include talking as if it’s from a scripted speech, an increased secretiveness or an unwillingness to discuss their views, as often the extreme right wing will tell people not to engage with teachers.
The positive news is that people can change; all they need is a little help. Please use the Educate Against Hate website. If you have a concern, reach out to your local Prevent team or ACT Early and ask for advice, because only by working together will we reduce extremism.