The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) recently completed the evaluation of StepUp! Hounslow Youth, commissioned by Hounslow Council.
StepUp! Hounslow Youth is part of a programme of work undertaken in Hounslow which seeks to develop community inclusion and resilience amongst its many communities. It also relates to a more specific strand of work related to preventing violent extremism, which the TIHR has extensively worked on.
Hounslow has been in the forefront of developing work around preventing violent extremism and has had a local, regional and national and presence on cohesion over several years. It has also led a strong Prevent Violent Extremism programme across West London since the inception of the Prevent Agenda, undertaking and supporting projects to help with de-radicalisation.
ContextIn 2011 the Government conducted a revision of the Prevent strategy and the revised strategy continues to be an important part of the Government’s overall counter-terrorism plans with the specific aim of Prevent being utilised to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.The new prevent strategy has three main objectives, the three I’s and these are:
- To respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it. (Ideology)
- Prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. (Individuals)
- Work with a wide range of sectors and institutions including education, faith, health and criminal justice) where there are risks. (Institutions).
ObjectivesWithin this context, the Hounslow Step Up! Hounslow Youth project sought to address: activities that target vulnerable people; training for institutions; information provision; developing critical thinking.In particular, the project sought to engage with up to 100 local young people aged between 13 years and 19 years of age and aimed to:
- Develop critical thinking through engagement and debating; responding to ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat faced from those who promote it.
- Hear from and engage with key local Muslim representatives to attend and deliver positive messages about Islam and the UK which counter misconceptions and undermine extremist narrative;
- Discuss current issues of importance to the target group, thus preventing young people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support.
MethodologyThe evaluation’s overarching aims were to:
- Make a contribution to the continued improvement of Hounslow’s programme of work in this stream, and specifically the delivery of individual projects and events;
- Provide feedback to funders and partners and
- Provide recommendations for the planning of future work.
- Document review: in order to frame evaluation findings within existing research in this field of work, we looked back to previous literature reviews we have undertaken which seek to understand what is currently known about the root causes of radicalisation and resulting behaviour, and types of intervention which support the development of resilient communities.
- Stakeholder interviews: to explore views of what the project aimed to achieve and what success would look like.
- Event feedback sheets to gather information about:
- Reasons for attending the events;
- Participants’ instant response to the event attended – knowledge gained; enjoyment/interest; possible behaviour changes; improvements for next events;
- Their reflections on any changes in behaviour they might have noticed in themselves resulting from attendance at previous event/s where applicable.
- Direct observations of the three events: to supplement our feedback data with our reflexions and interpretations of how the events were experienced by the participants.