How can you help?

Family and friends know when something’s not right. You can spot worrying behaviour at an early stage and help the person you care about get the support they may need to move away from extremism. 

Sometimes the person’s behaviour can be linked to other issues and is not connected to radicalisation. If you’re not sure, you could talk to other friends or family members first and they may help you decide if it’s the right time to seek help.

Should you start a conversation?

The person may not agree that something is wrong and it may be hard to talk about your concerns with them. If they get angry or upset and it becomes too difficult to talk to them, then try again another day. But if it’s not working and you’re still worried, then it may be time to tell us and see if we or one of the organisations we work with can help.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do be aware of any negative influences online and offline.
  • Do keep an eye out for any changes big or small that are taking place with increasing intensity.
  • Do have that conversation with the person you're worried about, even when it’s hard to know where to start or what to say.
  • Do trust your instincts and if you're worried seek help and advice.
  • Do speak to other people you trust – like schools or community leaders about your concerns.
  • Do act early and tell us, so together we can support the person you care about move away from extremism.
  • Don’t keep your worries to yourself. You’re not alone – together with our partners we’re here to help.
  • Don’t think you can’t make a difference – you can by acting early and sharing your concerns.
  • Don’t leave things, if you’re concerned seek help.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact us in confidence and tell us your concerns. You won’t be wasting our time and you won’t ruin lives. But you could save them.

Tips for talking

If you’re worried about someone close becoming radicalised or holding extreme views, it can be difficult to know how to start a conversation. Here are some ways to help you make that start but don’t feel you need to take this step before calling us.

  • The best way is to start off asking a question and then listening to them answer. 
  • Try and bring them on board first and challenge later.
  • Create a space and the opportunity for them to talk.
  • Don’t try and do a counter narrative, even though you might find their views offensive, let them express themselves. 
  • Next time say you want to explore their views in more detail and take an aspect of what they are saying and counter it with a different view point (could be historical or a theological context).  
  • Try and engage in healthy debate. 
  • Seek help and support.

Trust your instincts

My advice is don’t call them racist. That will only make the person feel combative and they won’t engage. Try not to express your own opinions too soon, or it can just turn into a screaming match. Be patient, it’s important to have a two-way conversation.

My advice to parents is to just be vigilant, understand what your children are doing. If you see any sudden changes then take heed and don’t just put it down to teenage behaviour, which of course it can be. But if you see a real change in who they are friends with, if they have stopped seeing old friends and have only new ones. If they used to go out and don’t now or vice versa. These kind of things. Have a conversation.

They find the trigger and use people’s anxieties, then they offer a new narrative or a way out. They try to create a bubble of social isolation, so no one can contradict the narrative they are telling the person. Parents be vigilant, there is support out there.

Up next

Staying safe online