Coventry groups working to stop extremism receive government funding

Three projects working to bring an end to extremism in Coventry have been awarded Home Office funding, as part of a national strategy to defeat racism, promote equality and build a more unified society.

Newstart4UWATCH Hillfields and Peacejam UK are among 230 anti-extremist project groups across the UK that bid for and successfully secured sought after funding from the Home Office programme: Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) as part of the Counter Extremism Strategy.

Representatives from Coventry City Council and local group Newstart4U attended an event in London on 19 July where the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid made a speech to introduce the government’s new Strategy to Challenge Extremism Together.

He also spoke about individuals and communities all continuing to work together to ensure they are resilient to narratives extremist use to isolate our communities.

The groups will use the money to deliver projects that support their communities to increase cohesion and help to close any existing divisions. It is hoped this will encourage all grass root community groups to continue their support of our citizens and make Coventry a great place to live.

Cabinet member for Policing and Equalities and Deputy Leader Abdul Khan said: “Coventry is a multicultural city and a city of peace and reconciliation. Our communities’ live side by side with mutual respect of each other’s chosen lifestyle and culture.

“However, there are few who choose to divide our communities through their narratives promoting hatred and division.

“Our local community groups and organisations continue to provide crucial support and services to some of the most vulnerable members of society in areas with high deprivation. It is wonderful to see our local community groups being recognised and supported by BSBT to deliver their projects in our city.”

Newstart4u are based in Riley Square in Bell Green and operates as a hub to support Eastern European migrants in Coventry. The funding will now allow them to deliver a series of workshops alongside English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learning, with a cohort of Eastern European resident volunteers.

This aims to help develop a better understanding of the diverse communities and cultures in the city as well as increasing awareness of extremism in all its forms along with the knowledge and confidence to challenge extremist narratives.

Managing Director, Monika Carroll from Newstart4U CIC said: “We provide support and training to develop skills to enable individuals to progress in their lives here in the UK.  Some Eastern European media promotes nationalism which is not conducive to a multicultural society here in the UK. We are proud to have been chosen by BSBT to continue our work here in Coventry.”

WATCH Hillfields work with adults who speak English as a second language including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAMEs), refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers from European countries who have settled in the Hillfields area.

The funding will help them deliver an introduction to radio group work sessions through community radio project, HillzFM. This will support young people age 16-29 who are not in employment, education or training and may be at risk of becoming radicalised by extremist groups operating in the local area.

Watch centre Manager Patricia Evans said: “We are proud to be supporting our communities in a neighbourhood of deprivation. This BSBT project will build on the work we have been doing with our communities who come from all backgrounds and speak over 60 different dialects here in Hillfields. HillsFM our community Radio Project will be supporting this project and our work with the communities to provide radio-based activities.”

PeaceJam UK delivers peace education, based around the lives and example of the 14 Nobel Peace Laureates, and governing body members including Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama.

This project will use the funding to train teachers and senior staff in 30 out of the 85 primary schools in Coventry on how to use age-tailored curricular materials.

Project Officer from PeaceJam, Sara Belhay said: “The aim of our curricular materials is to develop the leadership skills in young people, and empower them to make a positive change in themselves, their communities and in the world.

“The BSBT project enables primary school teachers in Coventry to receive training on how to use our PeaceJam Juniors curricular materials and facilitate a youth-led social change project as part of PeaceJam’s One Billion Acts of Peace Campaign. The aim of the project is to promote tolerance of diversity and difference among primary school pupils to enhance inclusivity and cohesiveness in Coventry.”

Coventry City Council said they work closely with local groups and organisations to provide support and advise to enable the delivery of projects in the city.